• nursing;
  • women;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • smoking;
  • addiction;
  • relapse to smoking;
  • qualitative research;
  • interpretive phenomenology

Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) a smoking-related disease and repeatedly relapsing to smoking is a complicated health problem, particularly for people expected to be at the peak of their productivity in life. As the prevalence of COPD among women is on the rise devoted attentiveness must be given to women's smoking. The purpose of this study is to illuminate the experience of women with COPD of repeatedly relapsing to smoking. The study draws on interpretive phenomenology. Seven women, aged 47–65 years, selected out of convenience, were interviewed twice, shortly after being hospitalized for an exacerbation of the disease. Data were analysed into themes emphasizing commonalities and differences in the lived experience. Results illustrate the intricacies between the lung disease, which controls life of participants on a very fundamental level and smoking cigarettes, which only augments the disease. Six not mutually exclusive themes emerged with one, being caught in a spider web, overarching. Other themes were: circumstances of the relapses, shame, the excuse, ambivalence and incomplete attempts to quit. The capacity of the women participating in this study to refrain from smoking was limited and they vacillated between wanting and not wanting to stop. This suggests that for women in similar situations an exhaustive and long-term nursing care is necessary for them to be able to come to terms with what they really aspire to and to stay with that decision.