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ABSTRACT: Patient's attitudes and illness beliefs have shown to be of great importance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As former qualitative research has mainly focused on patients with end-stage COPD, who are recruited within hospital or pulmonary rehabilitation settings, and excluding patients with disabling comorbidities, this study specifically aims to explore the perspectives of patients with COPD and comorbidities in primary care. This study was designed as a qualitative, explorative study using open patient interviews. The study was conducted at three primary care practices, East Flanders, Belgium. A total number of seven patients, diagnosed with COPD and given a minimum score of 2 on the Charlson Comorbidity Index were included. In-depth interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was deductive using NVivo software. Researchers' triangulation was performed. Participants show high adaptation capabilities and report quite positively about their functional status, with an emphasis on social participation and partnership. Knowledge of the causes and consequences of COPD appears rather limited, and participants predominantly show an external locus of control in relation to the reported factors influencing the disease and strategies for self-management. Patients with COPD with comorbidity integrate their illness and symptoms into their lives. However, a lack of knowledge and education may leave them more anxious and more dependent on health care than necessary. Our results indicate that health care workers should adopt a positive approach toward patient's functioning and empower and inform their patients. We believe that chronic care for patients with COPD should provide personalized rehabilitation taking into account individual patient characteristics and self-management and coping attitudes. We believe that there is a generic core to be identified, which can tackle both COPD and comorbidities. Further research is mandatory to develop these generic programs focusing on patients with complicated needs. Primary care can provide the setting for exploration.
Chronic Respiratory Disease 01/2012; 9(3):183-91.