Exploring the interactional sphere of a systemic self-management intervention for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

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Ingeborg Farver-Vestergaard
Frances Early
Jonathan Fuld
Christina Gundgaard Pedersen


Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) face challenges in managing the physical and psychological consequences of the condition. Systemic self-management interventions based on the Wagner chronic care model seek to facilitate change in patient, healthcare professional (HCP) and healthcare system in order to support patients to self-manage their condition. Few studies have investigated the interactional sphere between patients and HCPs in the context of a systemic self-management intervention. The aim of the present study was to evaluate such an intervention and explore the discursive implications for self-management in COPD. Data were collected via interviews with patients and HCPs, observations of patient-provider interaction and document analysis of documents given to the patients to support self-management. An illustrative analytical model was developed on the basis of Willig’s discourse analysis guidelines. The findings suggested two different ways of talking about self-management – biomedical and patient-centred – that seemed to have implications for what speakers drawing on these discursive repertoires could say, do and experience in relation to self-management support and practice. Whilst the analytical method does not pass judgement on which discourse is ‘best’, results of this study show how the two identified discourses are oriented to different actions and positions, and highlight their relative strengths and limitations. The findings of the present study are relevant to the issue of how the ‘healthcare institution’, and evidence-based medicine as we know it, should be manifested – empirically and practically – in the future.

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