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The lay health worker-patient relationship in promoting pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) in COPD: what makes it work?

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Patrick Thomas White, Gillian Lynn Gilworth, Simon Lewin, Alison Wright, Stephanie JC Taylor, Rachel Tuffnell, Lauren Hogg, Nicholas Hopkinson, Sally J Singh

Original languageEnglish
JournalChronic Respiratory Disease
Early online date26 Aug 2019
Accepted/In press12 Jul 2019
E-pub ahead of print26 Aug 2019


King's Authors


Lay health workers (LHWs) can improve access to services and adherence to treatment, as well as promoting self-care and prevention. Their effect in promoting uptake and adherence in pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has not been tested. PR is the most effective treatment for the symptoms and disability of COPD, but this effectiveness is undermined by poor rates of completion. Trained LHWs with COPD, who also have first-hand experience of PR, are well placed to help overcome the documented barriers to its completion. The relationship between LHWs and patients may be one of the keys to their effectiveness but it has been little explored. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were used with the aim of examining the LHW-patient partnership in a feasibility study of trained PR-experienced LHWs used to support COPD patients referred to PR. Twelve volunteers with COPD who completed LHW training supported 66 patients referred for PR. All 12 of these LHWs gave end-of-study interviews, 21 COPD patients supported by LHWs were also interviewed. Patients reported that the LHWs were keen to share their experiences of PR, and that this had a positive impact. The enthusiasm of the LHWs for PR was striking. The common bond between LHWs and patients of having COPD together with the LHWs positive, first-hand experience of PR were dominant and recurring themes in their relationship.

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