Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) presents with physical, emotional and social difficulties that affect quality of life. Multimodal management includes both pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies, and pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) plays an important role. Recent research has suggested that manual therapies may improve perceptions of dyspnea for people with COPD.
Methods: Focus group interviews were conducted as part of a mixed methods study to assess the feasibility of implementing a manual therapy technique—muscle energy technique (MET)—as an adjunct to PR for people with moderate to severe COPD. Focus group interviews were conducted to examine trial participants views of the intervention and the trial design. A thematic analysis was undertaken to explore the data.
Results: Twelve participants with moderate to severe COPD participated in three focus groups. Participants were motivated to participate in the trial to be proactive about their health. They perceived MET to be a gentle, comfortable form of stretching that allowed them to ‘breathe easier’ and prepared them for PR. A small number of participants reported mild muscular discomfort during MET, but this was short-lasting and was not bothersome. Participants enjoyed the one-on-one contact with researchers and learned more about their breathing while performing spirometric testing. Most participants wanted longer and more frequent MET sessions, and some requested ‘homework’ stretching exercises.
Conclusions: The findings of this study show that a manual therapy intervention was received well by participants in a clinical trial setting. A small number of participants reported mild musculoskeletal discomfort in relation to the MET treatment. Participant preferences for additional and longer treatment sessions should be carefully considered against available resources in future clinical trials.
Trial registration: ANZCTR, ACTRN12618000801213. Registered 11 May 2018 - Retrospectively registered.
Author keywords: COPD - Complementary medicine - Manual therapy - Participant experiences - Preferences - Motivations
Author affiliations:DAB, JLS, MEC: School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Victoria, Bundoora, Australia; CJH: Department of Physiotherapy, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia; CW: Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Austin Health, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
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