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Impact of cough and mucus on COPD patients: primary insights from an exploratory study with an Online Patient Community

Authors Cook N, Gey J, Oezel B, Mackay AJ, Kumari C, Kaur VP, Larkin N, Harte J, Vergara-Muro S, Gutzwiller FS

Received 23 January 2019

Accepted for publication 17 May 2019

Published 24 June 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 1365—1376

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S202580

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


Nigel Cook,1 Jennifer Gey,1 Beyza Oezel,1 Alexander J Mackay,2 Chitresh Kumari,3 Vinay Preet Kaur,3 Noel Larkin,4 Jennifer Harte,4 Sara Vergara-Muro,5 Florian S Gutzwiller1

1Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland; 2Airways Disease Section, Imperial College London, London, UK; 3Novartis Healthcare Private Ltd, Hyderabad, India; 4Novartis Global Service Center, Dublin, Ireland; 5Ipsos Healthcare, London, UK

Background: Qualitative research provides real-life information on patients’ condition and facilitates informed design of future clinical studies.
Objective: We used Online Communities as a qualitative research tool to evaluate the effect of cough and mucus on COPD patients.
Methods: Two 2-week Online Communities were run in parallel in the UK and in the USA, including COPD patients with persistent cough and excessive mucus. Patients anonymously posted their responses to pre-assigned tasks, supervised and guided by a trained moderator. Five themes around the impact of cough and mucus were explored with new questions posted every 2–3 days. On the final day, high-level conclusions were shared with patients for feedback. Data were analyzed following the principles of grounded theory.
Results: Twenty COPD patients (UK, n=10; USA, n=10) participated in the Online Communities. We found that cough and mucus disrupted COPD patients’ lives at functional, emotional, social and economic levels. Patients created daily rituals and adjusted their lifestyle to cope with the impact of these symptoms. Patients identified themselves with our conclusions and saw the Online Community as an effective forum to share their experiences.
Conclusion: Findings of our study add to the body of evidence on the negative impact of COPD symptoms and unmet needs of these patients.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cough, mucus, Online Community, online bulletin board, qualitative research


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