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Scand J Caring Sci. 2005 Sep;19(3):230-9.

Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: part I. Struggling with meal-related situations: experiences among persons with COPD.

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Department of Caring Sciences, Orebro University, Orebro, Sweden.


Reduced nutritional intake with low and decreased body weight can be a component of normal ageing. There is, however, also a greater risk for reduced nutritional intake within certain diagnoses, especially for chronic diseases. Malnutrition in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is caused by many factors. The relationship between COPD and low values of body mass index (BMI) is a known independent risk for mortality. For optimal support and care with special focus on nutritional status and interventions, caregivers need more knowledge about the meal-related situations (i.e. shopping for food, cooking and eating) of COPD patients. The aim of this study was to describe experiences of meal-related situations as viewed from the individual's perspective. The sample included eight women and five men with COPD recruited from five primary health clinics. The participants' average age was 68.9 years, with values of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1) percentage) ranging from 18 to 69 and BMI values from 15 to 40. A descriptive design with qualitative interviews and self-reported diaries were used and the data were later analysed using content analysis. Findings showed consistency between informants' COPD, nutritional status and descriptions of experiences in meal-related situations. Findings were disease-specific but were also found to be general- and age-related. Respondents described physical influences and positive and negative feelings in their meal-related situations. Feelings of dependence, level of activity, transport of food, having company or being alone, appetite, hunger and need of time were also mentioned. Most research reports reduced nutritional status from a medical perspective. To our knowledge, no study has reported the positive and negative feelings that arise when eating in persons with COPD. Malnutrition for persons with COPD is not only caused by eating difficulties: eating is an integral part of social situations as shown in this study.

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