Aim: This paper is a report of a study of nurses' perceptions of caring for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a global health problem and the number of patients being treated with this disease in primary healthcare settings is increasing. This places new demands on the nurses involved.
Method: A phenomenographic approach was adopted, using a purposive sample. Data were generated between February and May 2003 from 20 interviews with district nurses and general nurses who cared for patients in primary healthcare settings with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Findings: In most cases, nurses cared for older people with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They described this care from two overall orientations: task and individual. The nurses' perceptions of the care of these patients were described as creating commitment and participation by establishing a good relationship with patients and supporting them in their personal care, educating patients by supplying information and knowledge in various ways, co-operation by co-operating with or referring to other caregivers, and arranging and implementing clinical examinations and treatments.
Conclusion: The type of care depended on who the patient met: either a task-oriented nurse or an individual-oriented nurse. Therefore, nursing programmes should pay special attention to the support and guidance of new and inexperienced and task-oriented nurses. Healthcare planners should take into consideration the need for individualized care when organizing care and allocating resources for chronically ill people.