Using a mobile health application to support self-management in COPD: A qualitative study
Background: Telehealth shows promise for supporting patients in managing their long-term health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it is currently unclear how patients, and particularly older people, may benefit from these technological interventions. Aim: To explore patients' expectations and experiences of using a mobile telehealth-based (mHealth) application and to determine how such a system may impact on their perceived wellbeing and ability to manage their COPD. Design and setting: Embedded qualitative study using interviews with patients with COPD from various community NHS services: respiratory community nursing service, general practice, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Method: An embedded qualitative study was conducted to which patients were recruited using purposive sampling to achieve maximum variation. Interviews were carried out prior to receiving the mHealth system and again after a 6-month period. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach. Results: The sample comprised 19 patients (aged 50-85 years) with varied levels of computer skills. Patients identified no difficulties in using the mHealth application. The main themes encapsulating patients' experience of using the mHealth application related to an increased awareness of the variability of their symptoms (onset of exacerbation and recovery time) and reassurance through monitoring (continuity of care). Conclusion: Patients were able to use the mHealth application, interpret clinical data, and use these within their self-management approach regardless of previous knowledge. Telehealth interventions can complement current clinical care pathways to support self-management behaviour. ©British Journal of General Practice.