The engagement of older people living with chronic lung disease in a peer support community-based exercise programme: A qualitative study

Publication Name

Health Expectations


Background: Chronic lung disease is a common and complex condition. Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes—either hospital-based or in the community are recommended in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Aim: To explore the experience of older people with chronic lung disease involved in a peer support community-based exercise maintenance programme. Design and Method: Participants were a part of the Lungs in Action programme run in a local community leisure centre through Lung Foundation Australia. All the programme participants (n = 25) were invited by an independent person through email and/or letter to participate in the study and provided with a participant information and consent form. Participants who returned consent forms were scheduled for group interviews. Participants were recruited over a 2-week period between 30 August and 13 September 2022. We conducted qualitative group interviews using a semi-structured interview guide to explore the experiences of older people living with chronic lung disease. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: A total of 14 participants (eight female and six male) aged between 64 and 86 years were interviewed. Three themes emerged from the data: motivation, authentic social engagement, and sustainable achievement. Motivation stemmed from the participants' perceived health benefits, and from the trainers' motivation and encouragement. Participants discussed how sharing experiences created an environment of trust and understanding, fun and friendship. Social engagement and creating authentic relationships were key aspects raised by participants. Feeling more confident in themselves and being able to accomplish physical tasks, making activities of daily living more manageable featured highly in participants' responses. Discussion and Conclusion: Community-based peer support exercise groups enable environments for people with chronic lung disease to maintain physical fitness, and to connect with others to form friendships and have fun.

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