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There is limited published research into what really matters to people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most previous research in this area focuses on the impact of the symptoms of COPD, rather than on the issues defined as important by patients themselves. This paper describes an exploratory study investigating what is most important to people living with COPD. A qualitative approach employing in-depth interviews with COPD patients was chosen. Thematic analysis was used to code and categorize data. Six patients with 'moderate' to 'very severe' COPD were recruited. They considered engagement in specific activities to be very important (walking, household maintenance and driving), even though these activities were mainly centred around the home environment, or within confined spaces, due to their physical limitations. This restriction led to feelings of social isolation that these patients tried to overcome through social participation (holidays, social interaction). People with COPD often experience physical restrictions, which can lead to reduced community mobility and social isolation. In this study, despite their physical limitations, these patients had a strong desire to participate and be engaged in various activities. The importance of enabling patients to 'participate' rather than just 'do' should be considered when planning and delivering patient-centred interventions across the whole spectrum of severity of COPD. © 2007 SAGE Publications.

Original publication




Journal article


Chronic Respiratory Disease

Publication Date





77 - 85