Self-management of exacerbations in COPD patients is important to reduce exacerbation impact. There is a need for more comprehensive and individualized interventions to improve exacerbation-related self-management behavior. The use of mobile health (mHealth) could help to achieve a wide variety of behavioral goals. Understanding of patients and health care providers perspectives towards using mHealth in promoting self-management will greatly enhance the development of solutions with optimal usability and feasibility. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore perceptions of COPD patients and their health care providers towards using mHealth for self-management of exacerbations.
A qualitative study using focus group interviews with COPD patients ( n = 13) and health care providers (HCPs) ( n = 6) was performed to explore perceptions towards using mHealth to support exacerbation-related self-management. Data were analyzed by a thematic analysis.
COPD patients and HCPs perceived mostly similar benefits and barriers of using mHealth for exacerbation-related self-management. These perceived benefits and barriers seem to be important drivers in the willingness to use mHealth. Both patients and HCPs strengthen the need for a multi-component and tailored mHealth intervention that improves patients’ exacerbation-related self-management by determining their health status and providing adequate information, decision support and feedback on self-management behavior. Most importantly, patients and HCPs considered an mHealth intervention as support to improve self-management and emphasized that it should never replace patients’ own feelings nor undermine their own decisions. In addition, the intervention should be complementary to regular contact with HCPs, as personal contact with a HCP was considered to be very important. To optimize engagement with mHealth, patients should have a positive attitude toward using mHealth and an mHealth intervention should be attractive, rewarding and safe.
This study provided insight into perceptions of COPD patients and their HCPs towards using mHealth for self-management of exacerbations. This study points out that future mHealth interventions should focus on developing self-management skills over time by providing adequate information, decision support and feedback on self-management behavior and that mHealth should complement regular care. To optimize engagement, mHealth interventions should be attractive, rewarding, safe and tailored to the patient needs.