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This study employed secondary data analysis to explore family perceptions of adjustment and social behaviour in older adults (n = 51) with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their relationship to published norms and patient self-report According to the Katz Adjustment Scale for Relatives, these COPD patients had significantly higher levels of belligerence, negativism, helplessness, withdrawal, psychopathology, nervousness and confusion than reports from relatives of older adults from the general population No differences were found in performance, expectation or dissatisfaction with socially expected activities, or performance of free-time activities However, family members of COPD patients were significantly more dissatisfied with their relative's free-time activities Although family perceptions of socially expected activities corresponded to patient descriptions of general and physical functioning (Sickness Impact Profile), patient perceptions of psychosocial functioning were independent of the family's The results supported the tenet that older adults with COPD have difficulties with adjustment that may adversely affect social relationships, but were not consistent with the belief that the performance of socially expected or free-time activities is more impaired than in others of this age group The data also suggested there may be some perceptual discrepancy between family and patient views of social behaviour