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      Patients’ perspectives on the impact of a new COPD diagnosis in the face of multimorbidity: a qualitative study

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          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, often occurs in the presence of comorbidities, which may influence experience and management of the disease. No prior research seems to have gained perspectives of newly diagnosed primary care COPD patients in the context of multimorbidity.


          This qualitative study aimed to explore the impact of a new diagnosis of COPD in the context of multimorbidity and also sought to gain a better understanding of how patients react to the diagnosis and incorporate it into their lives.


          Participants were identified from a cohort of primary care patients with multimorbidity recently diagnosed with COPD. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews from nine male and eight female participants. Thematic analysis was performed and the data interpreted from a constructivist perspective.


          Five core themes regarding COPD were induced: (i) reaction to diagnosis, (ii) impact on function and health behaviour, (iii) factors influencing self-management capacity, (iv) healthcare utilisation and (v) interplay of comorbidities. Most participants had difficulty recognising the importance of COPD and its long-term implications. For many, the salience of another chronic condition outweighed COPD. Self-management capacity and utilisation of healthcare services were challenged by low prioritisation of COPD among other comorbidities.


          This study provides an insight into how primary care patients feel about being diagnosed with COPD, as well as their prioritisation of the disease in the context of multimorbidity. It highlights the need for tailored education and personalised management incorporating patients’ perspectives in primary care.

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          Most cited references 28

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          Comorbidities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

          Comorbidities such as cardiac disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, and psychological disorders are commonly reported in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but with great variability in reported prevalence. Tobacco smoking is a risk factor for many of these comorbidities as well as for COPD, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the relationship between COPD and these comorbidities. However, recent large epidemiologic studies have confirmed the independent detrimental effects of these comorbidities on patients with COPD. On the other hand, many of these comorbidities are now considered to be part of the commonly prevalent nonpulmonary sequelae of COPD that are relevant not only to the understanding of the real burden of COPD but also to the development of effective management strategies.
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            Multimorbidity in primary care: developing the research agenda.

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              Comorbidities, patient knowledge, and disease management in a national sample of patients with COPD.

              Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States but is often undertreated. COPD often overlaps with other conditions such as hypertension and osteoporosis, which are less morbid but may be treated more aggressively. We evaluated the prevalence of these comorbid conditions and compared testing, patient knowledge, and management in a national sample of patients with COPD. A survey was administered by telephone in 2006 to 1003 patients with COPD to evaluate the prevalence of comorbid conditions, diagnostic testing, knowledge, and management using standardized instruments. The completion rate was 87%. Among 1003 patients with COPD, 61% reported moderate or severe dyspnea and 41% reported a prior hospitalization for COPD. The most prevalent comorbid diagnoses were hypertension (55%), hypercholesterolemia (52%), depression (37%), cataracts (31%), and osteoporosis (28%). Only 10% of respondents knew their forced expiratory volume in 1 second (95% confidence interval [CI], 8-12) compared with 79% who knew their blood pressure (95% CI, 76-83). Seventy-two percent (95% CI, 69-75) reported taking any medication for COPD, usually a short-acting bronchodilator, whereas 87% (95% CI, 84-90) of patients with COPD and hypertension were taking an antihypertensive medication and 72% (95% CI, 68-75) of patients with COPD and hypercholesterolemia were taking a statin. Although most patients with COPD in this national sample were symptomatic and many had been hospitalized for COPD, COPD self-knowledge was low and COPD was undertreated compared with generally asymptomatic, less morbid conditions such as hypertension.

                Author and article information

                NPJ Prim Care Respir Med
                NPJ Prim Care Respir Med
                NPJ Primary Care Respiratory Medicine
                Nature Publishing Group
                14 August 2014
                : 24
                : 14036
                [1 ] School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine, UNSW Australia , Sydney, NSW, Australia
                [2 ] Clinical and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney , Sydney, NSW, Australia
                Author notes

                HH and NZ conceptualised and designed the research project. SA performed sampling, participant recruitment and data collection, coding, analysis and interpretation, drafted the manuscript and coordinated its revision. HH, SD and NZ supervised data collection, participated in data analysis and interpretation, critically reviewed and revised the manuscript, and approved the final draft.

                Copyright © 2014 Primary Care Respiratory Society UK/Macmillan Publishers Limited

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