A qualitative assessment of COPD patients' experiences of pulmonary rehabilitation and guidance by healthcare professionals

J.J.M. Meis*, C.B. Bosma, M.A. Spruit, F.M.E. Franssen, D.J.A. Janssen, P.J. Teixeira, I.M.L. Augustin, E.F.M. Wouters, N.K. de Vries, A.M.W.J. Schols, S.P.J. Kremers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The present study aimed to assess COPD patients' experiences during an in-patient pulmonary rehabilitation program and the guidance provided by healthcare professionals. A third aim regarded examining ways to anticipate the transfer to the home environment after completion of the program. METHODS: Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from seven COPD patients at the beginning and six other COPD patients at the end of an in-patient pulmonary rehabilitation program, supplemented by a focus group and semi-structured interviews with 14 healthcare professionals of the involved disciplines. Data were analyzed using a phenomenological approach. RESULTS: Starting out, patients displayed trouble with acceptance of their disease, they had insufficient knowledge, and showed difficulties in setting specific realistic goals. Seeing fellow patients struggle with similar problems and tailored counseling by healthcare professionals helped them to overcome these barriers. During rehabilitation, patients became more confident in exercising and managing their daily life activities. Many patients evolved a desire to self-regulate their lives. Incorporating health-enhancing behaviors after returning home into their usual daily routines was anticipated to be tough. CONCLUSION: Patients undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation experience a complex health behavior change process, in which healthcare professionals fulfill a major contributing role. Therefore, guiding patients through this health behavior change process is a vital component of healthcare professionals' work, regarding which the present study made practical implications such as applying a personalized approach by giving tailored advices, applying an autonomy-supportive counseling style, teaching self-management skills, and referring patients to local exercise facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-510
Number of pages11
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • COPD patients
  • Health behavior change
  • Healthcare professionals' counseling strategies
  • Qualitative study

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