Active carers: living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2008 Aug;14(8):368-72. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2008.14.8.30771.


It has long been recognised that the majority of care provided in chronic illness comes not from health and social care professionals, but from family and friends. One such illness is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the developed world.To explore the specific care needs of informal caregivers of patients with advanced COPD, interviews were conducted with seven active family caregivers. Interviews were taped, transcribed and content analysed to obtain the caregivers' needs. Results confirm that family caregivers provide direct care with little support and assistance. Participants reported restricted activities of daily living and some emotional distress. There were knowledge deficiencies among caregivers relating to the COPD illness trajectory and little awareness of the potential of palliative care. Family caregivers need social and professional support while caring for a patient at home. This would help to ensure that their physical and emotional health does not suffer. There is a need to devise interventions to ensure family caregivers are supported.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Northern Ireland
  • Palliative Care*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Social Support*