Preferences for an eHealth tool to support physical activity and exercise training in COPD: a qualitative study from the viewpoint of prospective users

BMC Pulm Med. 2023 Feb 13;23(1):65. doi: 10.1186/s12890-023-02353-3.


Background: Despite well-known positive effects of pulmonary rehabilitation, access is limited. New strategies to improve access are advocated, including the use of eHealth tools.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore prospective users' preferences for an eHealth tool to support the self-management of physical activity and exercise training in COPD.

Methods: A qualitative research design was applied. Data was collected in six, audio recorded, digital co-creation workshops, which were guided by a participatory and appreciative action and reflection approach. A total of 17 prospective users took part in the process, including people with COPD (n = 10), relatives (n = 2), health care givers (n = 4) and a patient organization representative (n = 1). During the workshops, pre-selected relevant topics to exploring end-users' preferences for eHealth support in self-management in COPD were discussed. The workshops were recorded and transcribed. Data was analysed using inductive qualitative content analysis.

Results: The overarching theme "fusing with, rather than replacing existing support structures" was uncovered when the two-sided relationship between positive expectations towards digital solutions and the fear of losing access to established rehabilitation systems, emerged in the discussions. Three categories were identified, focused on wishes for an evidence-based support platform of information about COPD, a well-designed eHealth tool including functionalities to motivate in the self-management of physical activity and exercise training, and requirements of various forms of support. Co-creators believed that there were clear benefits in combining the best of digital and existing support systems.

Conclusions: Co-creators viewed an eHealth tool including support for physical activity and exercise training as a valuable digital complement to the now existing rehabilitation services. A future eHealth tool needs to focus on user-friendliness and prospective users's requests.

Keywords: Communication; Health literacy; Internet use; Telemedicine; Telerehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / therapy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Telemedicine*