This study aimed to identify barriers and facilitating factors to people with COPD performing the following actions: (a) reading a manual that contained summaries of evidence on treatments used in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and (b) at a medical consultation, asking questions that were provided in the manual and were designed to prompt doctors to review current treatments in the light of evidence. The manual was developed using current best practice and was designed to facilitate reading and discussion with doctors. In-depth interviews were held with patients who had received the manual. Of 125 intervention participants from a controlled clinical trial of the manual, 16 were interviewed in their homes in and around Adelaide, South Australia. Plain language writing and a simple layout facilitated reading of the manual by participants. Where the content matched the interests of participants this also facilitated reading. On the other hand, some participants showed limited interest in the evidence summaries. Participant comments indicated that they did not see it as possible or acceptable for patients to master research evidence or initiate discussions of evidence with doctors. These appeared to be the main barriers to effectiveness of the manual. If evidence summaries for patients are to be used in disease management, they should be understandable and relevant to patients and provide a basis for discussion between patients and doctors. Work is now needed so that we can both present evidence summaries in a way that is relevant to patients and reduce the barriers to patient-initiated discussions of evidence.