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J Palliat Care. 2011 Autumn;27(3):189-97.

Shifting life rhythms: Couples' stories about living together when one spouse has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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School of Health and Medical Sciences, Orebro University, Fakultetsgatan 1, S-701 82, Orebro, Sweden.



This study examines couples' experiences of living together when one partner has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Repeated qualitative interviews with four couples over an eight-month period, where one spouse in each couple suffered from advanced COPD. The final dataset comprised 19 interviews. A phenomenological-hermeneutical method was used to interpret the interview text.


One main theme, "living with the disease and one's spouse in a new and changeable life rhythm", emerged from three subthemes: "living with uncertainty", "living in a changed intimate relationship", and "finding new ways of living together". A mutual sense of companionship between the spouses facilitated their chances of reshaping their relationship and adapting it to the new life rhythm required by everyday life with the disease.


The healthy spouse had major responsibility for the health of their sick spouse. Awareness of the couple's own conceptions and knowledge of health and illness is central to person-focused care, as is awareness of what values are important to them when restructuring their everyday life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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