The primary care experience of adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). An interpretative phenomenological inquiry

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BACKGROUND: Studies of the lived experience of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) reveal a number of challenges patients face when interacting with healthcare providers that may be exacerbated by unwillingness or inability to quit smoking. However, none have explored, in-depth, primary care experiences among patients with COPD in community healthcare settings. AIMS/ OBJECTIVE: The study investigated healthcare experiences of patients living independently in the community with COPD who smoked or had recently quit (at most within the last 5 years), seeking care in primary care settings. METHOD: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) involving thirteen participants purposively recruited from social media posts in COPD and carer support groups, general community groups, community noticeboards and paid adverts on social media. In-depth interviews were held between February and April 2022 by phone or Zoom™ and explored patient experience of primary care, focusing on how smoking patterns, addiction and stigma impact upon and shape these experiences. RESULTS: Participants were aged between 45 to 75 years. Nine were female and two thirds were current smokers. Problematic experiences including time-constrained consultations, having to self-advocate for care "…go digging myself and then go and see him and say, can we do this, can we do that type of thing?" and guilt about smoking were common. Positive care experiences described non-judgemental interpersonal interactions with doctors, timely referral, proactive care and trust "I have an actual great trust for my GP… they're awesome, they'll look after you". Participants described how their care experience shifted as primary care adapted care delivery during COVID-19. CONCLUSIONS: Pro-active, empathetic care from general practitioners is desired from patients living with COPD. Stigma and fear of judgement was an important underlying driver of negative care experiences contributing to delayed help seeking from general practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0287518
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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