The Contradictions of Telehealth User Experience in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 14;10(10):e0139561. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139561. eCollection 2015.


Objective: As the global burden of chronic disease rises, policy makers are showing a strong interest in adopting telehealth technologies for use in long term condition management, including COPD. However, there remain barriers to its implementation and sustained use. To date, there has been limited qualitative investigation into how users (both patients/carers and staff) perceive and experience the technology. We aimed to systematically review and synthesise the findings from qualitative studies that investigated user perspectives and experiences of telehealth in COPD management, in order to identify factors which may impact on uptake.

Method: Systematic review and meta-synthesis of published qualitative studies of user (patients, their carers and clinicians) experience of telehealth technologies for the management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. ASSIA, CINAHL, Embase, Medline, PsychInfo and Web of Knowledge databases were searched up to October 2014. Reference lists of included studies and reference lists of key papers were also searched. Quality appraisal was guided by an adapted version of the CASP qualitative appraisal tool.

Findings: 705 references (after duplicates removed) were identified and 10 papers, relating to 7 studies were included in the review. Most authors of included studies had identified both positive and negative experiences of telehealth use in the management of COPD. Through a line of argument synthesis we were able to derive new insights from the data to identify three overarching themes that have the ability to either impede or promote positive user experience of telehealth in COPD: the influence on moral dilemmas of help seeking-(enables dependency or self-care); transforming interactions (increases risk or reassurance) and reconfiguration of 'work' practices (causes burden or empowerment).

Conclusion: Findings from this meta-synthesis have implications for the future design and implementation of telehealth services. Future research needs to include potential users at an earlier stage of telehealth/service development.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Collection
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Female
  • Help-Seeking Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Perception
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Medicine / methods
  • Pulmonary Medicine / organization & administration
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Self Care
  • Telemedicine / methods*