Aim: To describe conceptions of daily life in women living with a man suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in different stages.
Background: The spouse is often the primary caregiver to someone with COPD, and thus also affected by the consequences of the disease. No previous studies have been found focusing on conceptions of daily life in women living with a man suffering from COPD in different stages.
Methods: A phenomenographic study was conducted. Data were collected in 2008-2009 through semi-structured interviews with 21 women living with men suffering from COPD in different stages.
Findings: Four main descriptive categories were found: unchanged life situation where no support was needed; socially restricted life and changed roles; changes in health; and changes in the couple's relationship where support was needed. The categories are described in relation to the woman herself, in relation to the man, and in relation to others. No support was needed from society or health care when the men had mild COPD and the women experienced no change in their daily life. As the disease progressed, the women's responsibilities increased and their role changed from being a spouse to being an informal carer. Social contacts became limited, and they began to feel isolated. The women prioritized their spouse's health and well-being and compromised their own health. They experienced lack of support from health professionals and from the municipality.