Life's changing landscape - exploring the experiences of people with COPD: an analysis of public narratives.
Polak Scowcroft, Caroline Elizabeth
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In this study, data and information publicly available on the Internet were analysed to examine the self-reported experiences of people with COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic progressive disease that may exist with and worsen many other conditions of ageing. The theoretical basis for analysis draws on the social model of disability that stresses the disabling aspects of the environment, as opposed to the individual’s medical condition. This allows the voices and stories of people living life with COPD to be the focus of this research. In this study, I found that people with COPD who post their stories to the Internet display a wide range of emotions and experiences of living with COPD. The people with COPD discuss, amongst other things, how COPD has affected their home life and activities of daily living, their work and finances, their spouse or carer, and especially appreciate the friendships and support found at pulmonary rehabilitation and through belonging to a support group. These people appear to be very open and authentic in their writings, wishing to reach out to others with the condition to offer hope, support and advice, in adapting to changing circumstances as the condition progresses. People expressed gratitude at being part of a community of fellow people with COPD. This collection of stories shows that, despite having a disabling condition, people with COPD can demonstrate resilience and resourcefulness to successfully adjust the landscape of their lives, and the realities of living with a disability, to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.