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1.  A qualitative study of patients’ goals and expectations for self-management of COPD 
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an illness that affects patients on multiple levels, both physically and psychologically. While there is a growing body of evidence for the efficacy of self-management among patients with COPD, little evidence is available on the optimal content and methods for delivering self-management support.
Aims
The purpose of this study was to address gaps in the literature on self-management support by examining patients’ responses to questions about goals, needs, and expectations regarding self-management using qualitative methods in a broadly representative sample of patients with moderate to severe COPD. By focusing on patients’ perceptions of their needs, we hoped to guide development of cognitive-behavioural interventions for self-management support.
Methods
Patients ≥45 years of age with a physician diagnosis of COPD were recruited as part of a larger randomised controlled trial designed to determine the effectiveness of a lifestyle behavioural intervention to increase physical activity. In-depth interviews were conducted at baseline data collection using 10 standardised open-ended questions tailored to examine factors relevant to self-management support including concerns, fears, learning needs, barriers, facilitators, and goals. All interviews were audio recorded and analysed using qualitative methods. Responses were coded by three raters into thematic categories.
Results
A sample of 47 interviews with patients of mean age 68.4 years, 53% male, 87% white were used in the analysis. The distribution of spirometric impairment based on percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was moderate (57.5%), severe (31.9%), and very severe (10.6%). In response to questions targeting needs and goals for care, three main themes (loss, fear, and desire for improved care) and seven associated sub-themes were identified. Because of breathlessness and fatigue as well as symptoms from conditions other than COPD, patients reported the loss of ability to participate in pleasurable and necessary activities of daily living and the desire to recover at least some of their functioning. They expressed problems with social isolation and uncertainty about their prognosis, as well as the hope to improve. In addition, fearful experiences associated with uncontrolled breathlessness and a wish for greater understanding and knowledge about treatment were major concerns.
Conclusions
These qualitative results suggest that the content of self-management support for patients with COPD should focus on addressing patients’ fears associated with the uncertainty, progression, and suffering of their disease, their expectations about overcoming or replacing losses, their needs for improved health literacy and their desire for improved care. These responses indicate areas where cognitive-behavioural intervention should focus in order to enhance patient self-efficacy, motivation, and behavioural change for improved self-management.
doi:10.4104/pcrj.2012.00070
PMCID: PMC3745027  PMID: 23138844
chronic disease; cognitive-behaviour; COPD; qualitative research; self-management
2.  Improving accuracy of medication identification in an older population using a medication bottle color symbol label system 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:142.
Background
The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate and refine an adjuvant system of color-specific symbols that are added to medication bottles and to assess whether this system would increase the ability of patients 65 years of age or older in matching their medication to the indication for which it was prescribed.
Methods
This study was conducted in two phases, consisting of three focus groups of patients from a family medicine clinic (n = 25) and a pre-post medication identification test in a second group of patient participants (n = 100). Results of focus group discussions were used to refine the medication label symbols according to themes and messages identified through qualitative triangulation mechanisms and data analysis techniques. A pre-post medication identification test was conducted in the second phase of the study to assess differences between standard labeling alone and the addition of the refined color-specific symbols. The pre-post test examined the impact of the added labels on participants' ability to accurately match their medication to the indication for which it was prescribed when placed in front of participants and then at a distance of two feet.
Results
Participants appreciated the addition of a visual aid on existing medication labels because it would not be necessary to learn a completely new system of labeling, and generally found the colors and symbols used in the proposed labeling system easy to understand and relevant. Concerns were raised about space constraints on medication bottles, having too much information on the bottle, and having to remember what the colors meant. Symbols and colors were modified if they were found unclear or inappropriate by focus group participants. Pre-post medication identification test results in a second set of participants demonstrated that the addition of the symbol label significantly improved the ability of participants to match their medication to the appropriate medical indication at a distance of two feet (p < 0.001) and approached significant improvement when placed directly in front of participants (p = 0.07).
Conclusions
The proposed medication symbol label system provides a promising adjunct to national efforts in addressing the issue of medication misuse in the home through the improvement of medication labeling. Further research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of the labeling system in real-world settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-142
PMCID: PMC3282670  PMID: 22206490
Medication labeling; medication errors; medication adherence

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