• chronic illness;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • decision making;
  • health-related information;
  • personal beliefs;
  • person-centredness;
  • self-management

ehrlich c, st john w & kendall e (2010) Journal of Nursing and Healthcare of Chronic Illness2, 262–270 ‘Listening to my body’ to ‘Look after my body’: a theory of information use for self-management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Aim.  To report how people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) gather, interpret and apply health affecting information.

Background.  Some people with COPD manage more effectively than others, presumably because they have better coping skills, life skills and self-management strategies. A considerable amount of healthcare time and money is invested in delivering information and self-management training to people with COPD, based on an assumption that education effectively and efficiently promotes positive self-management behaviour. This assumption is not based on sound knowledge about how individuals acquire and use information to guide their self-management behaviours.

Method.  A grounded theory design was used to gather and analyse interview data collected from people with COPD in 2007. An iterative theory-building approach was used to develop a model that represents how participants used information in their daily self-management.

Conclusions.  Everyday self-management decisions for people with COPD are more than simple treatment choices or compliance with medical regimens. Rather they result from intricate and purposeful interactions between cycles of ‘Listening to my body’ and ‘Looking after my body’ within the context of their daily lives.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Understanding individual information use patterns will assist health professionals to tailor effective and supportive healthcare information. Health professionals need to consider not only the healthcare needs of an individual, but also the social context within which that person acquires and uses information.