A pilot study to examine the relationships of dyspnoea, physical activity and fatigue in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Clin Nurs. 2000 Jul;9(4):526-33. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2702.2000.00361.x.


A descriptive-correlational design was used to examine the relationships between dyspnoea, physical activity, and fatigue in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lazarus and Folkman's theory of stress, appraisal, and coping provided a framework to guide the study. Dyspnoea was measured by a vertical visual analogue scale, fatigue by the Fatigue subscale of the Profile of Mood States, and physical activity by the six-minute walk (6 MW) test and an open-ended question. A convenience sample of seven male and 15 female patients with COPD provided data for analysis. The sample was characterized by relatively high forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) indicating mild lung impairment and high mean levels of fatigue and dyspnoea. No significant gender difference was found in the ratings of dyspnoea and fatigue and the 6 MW distance. Dyspnoea, physical activities, and fatigue were all significantly inter-related (P < 0.001). Results indicated that the higher the dyspnoea scores, the shorter the 6 MW distance walked, and the higher the fatigue scores. Limitations and suggestions for nursing practice and future research are presented.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / nursing*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / complications
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / nursing*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Pilot Projects