Illness behaviour effects the quality of life of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but is scarcely described in literature. The aim of this study was to explore self‐reported illness behaviour of patients with COPD, who have declined nonpharmacological rehabilitation. The study has a qualitative design using semi‐structured interviews. The subsequent analysis is a theory‐guided mapping of actions reported by the patients in order to manage symptoms. These actions are understood and categorised according to the styles of coping described by Alonzo. Four categories of illness behaviour are identified: containment of symptoms, coping with symptoms through formal and informal interventions, adjustment of situations through compensating and economising interventions and crisis coping by surrendering. The analysis shows that behaviour that may seem unhelpful from a healthcare perspective may seem rational in the everyday life perspective of the patient. Findings show that reluctance to participation in rehabilitation should not only be interpreted as lack of motivation or health literacy. In the patients’ perspective, nonpharmacological interventions might be perceived as a threat that could tip the delicate balance of everyday life with severe COPD.
- disease, health science and nursing
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease