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Keywords:

  • COPD;
  • dyspnea;
  • functional performance;
  • gender differences;
  • self-efficacy;
  • perceptions

This correlational and comparative study explored whether self-reports of self-efficacy and dyspnea perceptions predict the perceived level of functional performance in adults who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The convenience sample included 97 Caucasian men (52) and women (45). Participants had to have a forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) of less than 70% predicted, and a FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC) of less than 70%. Participants were recruited from pulmonary function laboratories and from better breather support groups in a Midwestern state. Three standardized, self-report instruments, COPD Self-Efficacy Scale (CSES), the Pulmonary Functional Status and Dyspnea Questionnaire (PFSDQ), and Functional Performance Inventory (FPI) were used to measure the participants' self-report of their perceptions of self-efficacy, dyspnea, and functional performance. Dyspnea predicted 38.1% of the variance in functional performance, with self-efficacy contributing an additional 6.5% to the variance in the total sample. Self-efficacy predicted 36.5% of the variance in functional performance in men, with dyspnea contributing an additional 7.2% to the variance. However, in women, only dyspnea was a significant predictor of functional performance, at 48.5% when both dyspnea and self-efficacy were entered as independent variables. To improve patients' perceptions of functional performance, nurses can use methods such as breathing techniques and upper- and lower-body exercises that increase optimal management of dyspnea. Nurses may increase the self-efficacy of managing dyspnea by helping patients master breathing techniques and exercise through coaching and providing vicarious experiences through patient support groups or pulmonary rehabilitation programs.