24 June 2019
Background: Qualitative research provides real-life information on patients’ condition and facilitates informed design of future clinical studies.
Objective: We used Online Communities as a qualitative research tool to evaluate the effect of cough and mucus on COPD patients.
Methods: Two 2-week Online Communities were run in parallel in the UK and in the USA, including COPD patients with persistent cough and excessive mucus. Patients anonymously posted their responses to pre-assigned tasks, supervised and guided by a trained moderator. Five themes around the impact of cough and mucus were explored with new questions posted every 2–3 days. On the final day, high-level conclusions were shared with patients for feedback. Data were analyzed following the principles of grounded theory.
Results: Twenty COPD patients (UK, n=10; USA, n=10) participated in the Online Communities. We found that cough and mucus disrupted COPD patients’ lives at functional, emotional, social and economic levels. Patients created daily rituals and adjusted their lifestyle to cope with the impact of these symptoms. Patients identified themselves with our conclusions and saw the Online Community as an effective forum to share their experiences.
Conclusion: Findings of our study add to the body of evidence on the negative impact of COPD symptoms and unmet needs of these patients.