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Factors influencing exacerbation-related self-management in patients with COPD: a qualitative study

Authors Korpershoek YJG, Vervoort SCJM, Nijssen LIT, Trappenburg JCA, Schuurmans MJ

Received 1 July 2016

Accepted for publication 26 September 2016

Published 28 November 2016 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 2977—2990

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S116196

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


YJG Korpershoek,1,2 SCJM Vervoort,3 LIT Nijssen,2 JCA Trappenburg,2 MJ Schuurmans1,2

1Research Group Chronic Illnesses, Faculty of Health Care, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, 2Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, 3Cancer Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Background: In patients with COPD, self-management skills are important to reduce the impact of exacerbations. However, both detection and adequate response to exacerbations appear to be difficult for some patients. Little is known about the underlying process of exacerbation-related self-management. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify and explain the underlying process of exacerbation-related self-management behavior.
Methods: A qualitative study using semi-structured in-depth interviews was performed according to the grounded theory approach, following a cyclic process in which data collection and data analysis alternated. Fifteen patients (male n=8; age range 59–88 years) with mild to very severe COPD were recruited from primary and secondary care settings in the Netherlands, in 2015.
Results: Several patterns in exacerbation-related self-management behavior were identified, and a conceptual model describing factors influencing exacerbation-related self-management was developed. Acceptance, knowledge, experiences with exacerbations, perceived severity of symptoms and social support were important factors influencing exacerbation-related self-management. Specific factors influencing recognition of exacerbations were heterogeneity of exacerbations and habituation to symptoms. Feelings of fear, perceived influence on exacerbation course, patient beliefs, ambivalence toward treatment, trust in health care providers and self-empowerment were identified as specific factors influencing self-management actions.
Conclusion: This study provided insight into factors influencing exacerbation-related self-management behavior in COPD patients. The conceptual model can be used as a framework for health care professionals providing self-management support. In the development of future self-management interventions, factors influencing the process of exacerbation-related self-management should be taken into account.

Keywords: COPD, self-management, exacerbation, qualitative research, grounded theory

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