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The BREATHE 2 Study

Comparing the Effectiveness of Self-Management and Peer Support Communication Programs Among COPD Patients and Family Caregivers

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of hospitalizations and death in the United States. People living with COPD often experience flare-ups of coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, known as exacerbations, that lead them to come to the hospital. The disease also makes it difficult to carry out daily activities.

Studies have shown that helping patients better self-manage COPD can improve their quality of life and reduce hospital visits. However, it is unclear how to most effectively deliver this support. One promising approach involves peer support, in which people dealing with COPD get connected with each other to talk about how they handle similar problems and issues in managing their condition.

Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), this study is evaluating the added benefits of receiving peer support. Participants in this study are invited to peer support get-togethers and are partnered with BREATHEPals, other people who have COPD (or care for someone with COPD) who have been able to successfully manage it.

COPD | BREATHE2 Research Study: Managing Life with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

BREATHE2 is a research study to help improve quality of life for people who have COPD, including emphysema or chronic bronchitis.


Study Interventions

This is a randomized controlled trial in which we compare the effectiveness of two approaches to help people who have COPD and their caregivers better manage COPD.

  • All participants receive support from a respiratory care practitioner, who discusses COPD self-management, reviews medication use and goes over BREATHE program education materials that were developed by physicians, researchers, COPD patients and their caregivers.
  • A random half of participants are invited to take part in a peer support program. They are invited to eight get-togethers where they meet others who have COPD and discuss important topics on how to live with and cope with this condition. They also get matched with a BREATHEPal who meets with them at the get-togethers and holds one-on-one phone conversations with them as needed.

Called BREATHE 2, this study builds on BREATHE — Better Respiratory Education and Treatment Help Empower — a study in which COPD patients received BREATHE program education, resources and support from a specialized nurse transition guide, in the hospital and at home.

Don’t give in to this disease. You might not be able to do things as fast or as well as you did before. But as long as you’re doing it, you’re still living a life.

— Marlene, a BREATHE2 study participant and BREATHEPal who is living with COPD

Study Outcomes

The primary study outcome is the change in the health-related quality of life of patient participants. We will also measure:

  • Hospital and emergency room visits
  • Patient-reported support, hope, and satisfaction
  • Patient self-care behaviors, such as smoking cessation, participation in pulmonary rehabilitation and increased physical activity
  • Caregiver stress, coping, and preparedness for caregiving

Meet our Project Team

patients in a support group

The BREATHE team is composed of a diverse project team of researchers, multidisciplinary health care professionals and leaders, community advocates and patients with COPD and their caregivers.

Meet our project team.

Principal Investigator: Hanan J. Aboumatar, M.D., M.P.H.

Funding Agency: PCORI

Funding Support: $2.1 million

Project Dates: July 2016–July 2019

Learn more at PCORI.

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