This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a form of lung disease and is a leading cause of death in the United States. People with COPD can often feel out of breath, and they may cough and feel tightness in their chest. COPD results from irritation to the lungs from smoking, pollution, or other causes. There is no cure, but people who have COPD can take medicine to help manage their symptoms. People with COPD can also take steps to feel better; for example, they can stop smoking or increase their physical activity.
Patients who learn to manage their COPD symptoms can do more of what they want to do. They also go to the hospital less often. However, there is no evidence on the best ways to help patients learn to manage their COPD. The research team wants to compare two ways of helping patients and their caregivers learn to manage COPD: patients receive education and support from a respiratory therapist, or patients receive education and support from a respiratory therapist plus learn ways to manage the disease from a peer. A peer is a patient with COPD or a caregiver who has successfully managed COPD and knows the challenges patients face. Respiratory therapists teach people with COPD, asthma, and other lung diseases how to breathe more easily and manage their condition.
Who can this research help?
Results from this study can help healthcare providers decide how to help people who have COPD learn to manage their condition.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is recruiting 290 people with COPD who live in the Baltimore, Maryland, area. Each patient can invite one family caregiver to participate in the study with them. The research team is assigning patients by chance to receive education and support from a respiratory therapist or to receive education and support from a respiratory therapist plus participate in a peer support program. For both groups, a respiratory therapist provides written educational materials and meets one time, in person, with each patient. In the peer support program, patients and caregivers connect with other patients who have COPD and their caregivers and receive guidance from a peer mentor who has learned how to manage COPD. The peer support program offers extra education and support for six months.
Patients in both groups learn
- How to use their medicine, including inhalers
- What to do when they feel short of breath
- How to look for early signs of a COPD flare-up
- How to increase their ability to exercise
The research team is following up with patients to see whether their quality of life improves. The research team is also checking if patients go to the emergency room or spend time in the hospital for COPD-related problems.
People who have COPD and family caregivers are working with the research team to plan the study and analyze the results.
Research methods at a glance
- COPD Patient Co-investigator
- COPD Family Caregiver Co-investigator
Other Stakeholder Partners
- Carol Sylvester, Stakeholder Co-investigator