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COPD patients and their carers experiences before and after the emergence of COVID-19

Study Design:

Qualitative Study

Disease Area:



Astra Zeneca

Chief Investigator:

Dr Michael Crooks, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust




An interview study exploring COPD patients and their carers experiences, expectations and understanding of exacerbations before and after the emergence of COVID-19

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease which causes sufferers to experience episodes of breathlessness, with symptoms worsening over a short period of time. Such episodes, termed exacerbations of COPD, often require treatment with medication and are a common reason for emergency department attendance and hospital admission.

Exacerbations reduce quality of life and are associated with an increased risk of mortality. Previous research has found episodes of exacerbation to be a very distressing experience for COPD patients. Despite this, some patients do not seek medical assistance during such episodes. The impact of COVID-19 on exacerbations of COPD may also have changed treatment seeking behaviour. There is limited research on the language used to describe exacerbations of COPD and how exacerbations that do not lead to hospital attendance are identified and managed by COPD patients at home. As such, the study aims to improve our knowledge of COPD patients and their carers understanding, experiences and expectations of COPD exacerbations before and after the emergence of COVID-19.

What we plan to do

Adopting a qualitative study design, semi-structured interviews will be held with up to 40 COPD patients, and where appropriate their carers, who are i) prone to moderate and/or severe COPD exacerbations or ii) not prone to moderate or severe COPD exacerbations. The study plans to understand what differences may be present between people who have frequent exacerbations requiring medical assistance and those who have exacerbations for which they don’t seek medical assistance, exploring the relationship between COPD experience and subsequent exacerbation behaviour.

The study aims to improve our knowledge of COPD patients and their carers understanding of, feelings towards, experiences and expectations about exacerbations. The study will ask about how COVID-19 has affected COPD patient experience of exacerbations. Thematic analysis will be applied to identify, analyse and interpret themes from the qualitative interview data.

Astra Zeneca will act as the sponsor for the study. HHTU will provide study management support and data management for the ExacQual Study.


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Hull Health Trials Unit
3rd Floor AMB
University of Hull