Shifting life rhythms: Couples' stories about living together when one spouse has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Palliat Care. 2011 Autumn;27(3):189-97.


Aim: This study examines couples' experiences of living together when one partner has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Method: Repeated qualitative interviews with four couples over an eight-month period, where one spouse in each couple suffered from advanced COPD. The final dataset comprised 19 interviews. A phenomenological-hermeneutical method was used to interpret the interview text.

Findings: One main theme, "living with the disease and one's spouse in a new and changeable life rhythm", emerged from three subthemes: "living with uncertainty", "living in a changed intimate relationship", and "finding new ways of living together". A mutual sense of companionship between the spouses facilitated their chances of reshaping their relationship and adapting it to the new life rhythm required by everyday life with the disease.

Conclusion: The healthy spouse had major responsibility for the health of their sick spouse. Awareness of the couple's own conceptions and knowledge of health and illness is central to person-focused care, as is awareness of what values are important to them when restructuring their everyday life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Narration
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology*
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Sweden
  • Uncertainty