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Improving the uptake of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with COPD: qualitative study of experiences and attitudes

Harris, David; Hayter, Mark; Allender, Steven


David Harris

Mark Hayter

Steven Allender


Background Pulmonary rehabilitation can improve the quality of life and ability to function of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It may also reduce hospital admission and inpatient stay with exacerbations of COPD. Some patients who are eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation may not accept an offer of it, thereby missing an opportunity to improve their health status.

Aim To identify a strategy for improving the uptake of pulmonary rehabilitation.

Design of study Qualitative interviews with patients.

Setting Patients with COPD were recruited from a suburban general practice in north-east Derbyshire, UK.

Method In-depth interviews were conducted on a purposive sample of 16 patients with COPD to assess their concerns about accepting an offer of pulmonary rehabilitation. Interviews were analysed using grounded theory.

Results Fear of breathlessness and exercise, and the effect of pulmonary rehabilitation on coexisting medical problems were the most common concerns patients had about taking part in the rehabilitation. The possibility of reducing the sensation of breathlessness and regaining the ability to do things, such as play with their grandchildren, were motivators to participating.

Conclusion A model is proposed where patients who feel a loss of control as their disease advances may find that pulmonary rehabilitation offers them the opportunity to regain control. Acknowledging patients' fears and framing pulmonary rehabilitation as a way of ‘regaining control’ may improve patient uptake.


Harris, D., Hayter, M., & Allender, S. (2008). Improving the uptake of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with COPD: qualitative study of experiences and attitudes. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 58(555), 703-710.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 6, 2008
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2008
Publication Date 2008-10
Journal British Journal of General Practice
Print ISSN 0960-1643
Electronic ISSN 1478-5242
Publisher Royal College of General Practitioners
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 555
Pages 703-710
Keywords Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Communication barriers; Patient acceptance of healthcare; Qualitative research; COPD
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