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A pilot study to examine the relationships of dyspnoea, physical activity and fatigue in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


  • Kevin Woo MSc, RN, ACNP, GNC(C)

    1. Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Practitioner, Mount Sinai Hospital, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1X5
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Tina Koch Royal District Nursing Service of South Australia Inc., Chair in Domiciliary Nursing, School of Nursing, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia, Australia.


• A descriptive-correlational design was used to examine the relationships between dyspnoea, physical activity, and fatigue in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lazarus and Folkman’s theory of stress, appraisal, and coping provided a framework to guide the study.

• Dyspnoea was measured by a vertical visual analogue scale, fatigue by the Fatigue subscale of the Profile of Mood States, and physical activity by the six-minute walk (6MW) test and an open-ended question.

• A convenience sample of seven male and 15 female patients with COPD provided data for analysis.

• The sample was characterized by relatively high forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) indicating mild lung impairment and high mean levels of fatigue and dyspnoea.

• No significant gender difference was found in the ratings of dyspnoea and fatigue and the 6MW distance.

• Dyspnoea, physical activities, and fatigue were all significantly inter-related (P < 0.001).

• Results indicated that the higher the dyspnoea scores, the shorter the 6MW distance walked, and the higher the fatigue scores.

• Limitations and suggestions for nursing practice and future research are presented.