Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex, chronic condition. Patients commonly have limited access to face-to-face support due to decreased mobility, symptom burden, and availability of services. Online health care approaches provide the potential for increased access to self-management education and support. This study sought to understand older patients with COPD's perspectives of online approaches to health care. Materials and Methods: Participants older than 65 years were recruited from a respiratory service at an academic medical center. Qualitative, focus groups were used and recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using thematic analysis to identify key and repeated emergent themes. Results: Focus groups were undertaken between January and May 2014. Thematic analysis resulted in five overall themes: (1) concern over risks in the online environment; (2) multimedia and technology use as part of everyday life; (3) online resources as an opportunity for revision of forgotten knowledge; (5) potential for facilitation of decision-making support across geographical and physical barriers; and (4) perceived benefits of online peer support for people with COPD. Conclusions: Overall, these older participants with COPD had positive views of online health information, but did raise the need for guidance to ensure valid and reliable online sources. The capacity for online sources to increase access to decision support and up-to-date information was viewed positively, as was the ability to interact with peers who had similar experiences. Telecommunication tools and approaches are already being utilized in health care interactions. Further research is required into the most appropriate, feasible, and sustainable online health approaches to support patients with chronic illnesses such as COPD.
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- telehealth care