Background: Research suggests that patients' satisfaction with their physical functioning (SPF) is a critical component of HRQL. This study was designed to examine the extent to which perceptions of physical function and the value placed on physical function are related to satisfaction ratings. The sample consisted of older adults suffering from a progressively debilitating disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: During baseline assessments, COPD patients participating in a randomized controlled physical activity trial completed measures of SPF, perceived difficulty, and perceived importance.
Results: An ANCOVA controlling for age and gender indicated that perceived difficulty, perceived importance, and their interaction accounted for 43% of the variance in SPF. Additionally, participants were most satisfied with important tasks that they performed with little difficulty. Participants were least satisfied with important tasks that they perceived as highly difficult.
Conclusion: The results of the present study indicate that not being able to perform valued tasks produces discontent that is reflected in lower rating of satisfaction with physical functioning. Clearly, the significance of loss in function to individual patients is related to the importance of the functional activities that may be compromised. These data have implications for the scope of patient assessment in clinical care and for the conceptual basis of future research in the area of physical functioning.