Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic condition with burdensome symptoms and significant financial impact on healthcare systems. Although COPD is incurable, symptoms can be managed with inhaled and oral medications and appropriate self-care. COPD is a condition in which self-management is encouraged by health professionals.
With the increase of digital technologies in all aspects of life, including healthcare, digital platforms that help support COPD self-management have been emerging. This narrative literature review examines the emerging field of digital health technology in relation to self-management of COPD.
A systematic literature review was completed to collect the published research available related to supported self-management of COPD using digital technologies on Ovid Medline, PubMed, CINAHL, AMED, Embase and PsychInfo databases.
A total of 20 articles were selected for thematic analysis. The themes that arose were age, health literacy and previous experience of computers; patient engagement; healthcare professional engagement, training and technical support; impact on healthcare services; independence and emotional responses.
Due to a digital divide, older adults with low health literacy skills and limited previous experience with technology are a difficult group to engage with digital interventions. Engaging patients and maintaining their interest in a digital health intervention has many challenges. Healthcare professionals have a key role in the successful implementation of this kind of intervention but currently lack motivation to do so. Improving the quality and regulatory control of the digital platforms available may help improve this.
So far, digital self-management tools are not part of routine patient care and need appropriate implementation into current healthcare systems. Whilst evidence suggests there is a potential that supported digital self-management for COPD could improve clinical outcomes for patients, it can cause psychological distress and negatively affect independence. An intervention should not increase disease burden and therefore allowing patient choice as to whether to complete self-management tasks using digital technology is vital.
The research into this type of intervention is in its infancy and further insight into many aspects of it are needed; however, there is great potential for digital technology to enhance the management of COPD.
Many thanks to Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board for the funding to complete this research and to the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University for supporting the authors MSc programme.
This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019