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Barriers to and enablers of physical activity in patients with COPD following a hospital admission: a qualitative study

Authors Thorpe O, Kumar S, Johnston K

Received 13 September 2013

Accepted for publication 11 November 2013

Published 21 January 2014 Volume 2014:9(1) Pages 115—128


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Olivia Thorpe, Saravana Kumar, Kylie Johnston

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, The Samson Institute for Health Research, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by a persistent blockage of airflow, prompting episodes of shortness of breath, commonly leading to hospitalization. Hospitalization may lead to a decline in physical activity following discharge. Physical activity has been shown to improve symptoms of COPD and reduce readmissions, and to decrease morbidity and mortality. This study aims to explore, from the perspectives of people with COPD, the barriers to and enablers of participation in physical activity following hospitalization for COPD.
Methods: This study had a qualitative descriptive design and included semistructured interviews with 28 adult COPD patients who had been admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of exacerbation of COPD.
Results: A plethora of barriers to but fewer enablers of participation in physical activity and pulmonary rehabilitation were identified for this cohort of people. The main barriers identified were health-related (comorbidities, COPD symptoms, and physical injury or illness) environment-related (weather, transport, and finance), and self-related. The main enabling factors reported were access to health professionals and equipment, social support, routine and extracurricular activities, personal goals and motivation, and the effect of physical activity and "feeling better".
Conclusion: This research provides a snapshot of the barriers to and enablers of physical activity and pulmonary rehabilitation in people with COPD. It is evident that there are significant barriers which hinder the ability of people with COPD to undertake and continue participation in physical activity and pulmonary rehabilitation. While there are some enablers that may counter these barriers, it is clear that health professionals dealing with people suffering from COPD need to actively recognize and address barriers to physical activity and pulmonary rehabilitation. Hospital admission may create an opportunity for implementation of interventions promoting physical activity (such as referral to pulmonary rehabilitation), which may assist in reducing hospital readmission, as well as decreasing morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, physical activity, exercise, hospital admission, patient perspectives

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