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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic respiratory disease that gives rise to symptoms of breathlessness, chronic fatigue, and cough. The impact of COPD on people's activity has been widely acknowledged, yet it appears that we know little about how individuals experience activity. We employed a grounded theory study with 18 participants with COPD to explore their dimensions of activity. We identified two core concepts that captured participants' experience of activity; these were stagnation and movement. We found fresh air to be the single most important aspect affecting participants' experience of stagnation and movement; this was linked to a changed perception of symptoms. We identified the environment as an important context influencing the experience of COPD and activity. Our stagnation-movement theory explains the experience of activity within its environmental context, and how this experience might be affected on physical, social, and psychological levels. © The Author(s) 2011.

Original publication




Journal article


Qualitative Health Research

Publication Date





1239 - 1248