Accommodating to a troubled life – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients’ experiences and perceptions of self-image during the course of rehabilitation

Charlotte Simonÿ*, Ingrid Charlotte Andersen, Uffe Bødtger, Regner Birkelund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: To tailor future rehabilitation programmes for patients with chronic pulmonary obstructive
disease, there is a need for more in-depth knowledge about what is essential to these patients and how
they perceive their self-image while participating in rehabilitation. Therefore, this study aims to explore
patients’ experiences and perception of self-image during pulmonary rehabilitation.
Methods: Twenty-one patients were followed by participant observations during standard rehabilitation
complicity supplemented with final individual interviews. Phenomenological-hermeneutic analysis and
interpretation were applied.
Results: Through a rewarding peer fellowship, patients became engaged in rehabilitation and improved
their capacity to embrace and manage their illness. Through a humorous interplay, encouragement to
live with the life-threating disease developed. While understanding themselves in a wider perspective,
patients enhanced enablement to shape life according to personal satisfaction. Although participating in
the group-based programme was mostly invigorating, it was, however, sometimes perceived as a stressful
overload. More individualized support from healthcare professionals was warrented.
Conclusions: Group-based pulmonary rehabilitation can support chronic pulmonary obstructive disease
patients towards significant change in self-image and health behaviour, leading to improved illness management.
Enlarged opportunities to benefit from peer-fellowship and enhanced focus on what is essential
to the participants might expand the rehabilitation yields.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number17
Pages (from-to)2510-2518
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Multimorbidity
  • outpatient care
  • peer-fellowship
  • humour
  • health behaviour
  • participant observations
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • interviews

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