Narratives of breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Authors

  • Marit Kvangarsnes PhD, RN,

    Associate Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Aalesund University College, Aalesund, Norway
    2. Helse Møre og Romsdal, Aalesund, Norway
    • Correspondence: Marit Kvangarsnes, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aalesund University College, 6025 Aalesund, Norway. Telephone: +4770075073; +4799400695.

      E-mail: mk@hials.no

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Henny Torheim MSc, RN,

    Assistant Professor
    1. Helse Møre og Romsdal, Aalesund, Norway
    2. Aalesund University College, Aalesund, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Torstein Hole MD, PhD, FESC,

    Associate Professor
    1. Medical Clinic, Helse Møre og Romsdal, Aalesund, Norway
    2. Medical Faculty, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Lennart S Öhlund PhD

    Professor
    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Aalesund University College, Aalesund, Norway
    2. Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Aims and objectives

To explore patient perceptions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation and the patients' experiences of their relations with health personnel during care and treatment.

Background

Patients suffering from acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often experience life-threatening situations and undergo noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation via bi-level positive airway pressure in a hospital setting. Theory on trust, which often overlaps with the issue of power, can shed light on patient's experiences during an acute exacerbation.

Design

Narrative research design was chosen.

Methods

Ten in-depth qualitative interviews (= 10) were conducted with patients who had been admitted to two intensive care units in Western Norway during the autumn of 2009 and the spring of 2010. Narrative analysis and theories on trust and power were used to analyse the interviews.

Results

Because of their breathlessness, the patients perceived that they were completely dependent on others during the acute phase. Some stated that they had experienced an altered perception of reality and had not understood how serious their situation was. Although the patients trusted the health personnel in helping them breathe, they also told stories about care deficiencies and situations in which they felt neglected.

Conclusions

This study shows that patients with an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often feel wholly dependent on health personnel during the exacerbation and, as a result, experience extreme vulnerability.

Relevance to clinical practice

The findings give nurses insight into building trust and a good relationship between patient and caregiver during an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive lung disease.

Ancillary