BACKGROUND: Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are major causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide with a substantial burden of the disease being borne by the low and middle income countries (LMICs). Interventions to change health behaviour which aim to improve the quality of life and reduce disease burden due to CRD require knowledge of the problem and factors influencing such behaviour. Our study sought to appreciate the lived experiences of people with CRD, their understanding of the disease and its risk factors, and usual practice of health behaviour in a rural low-literate community in southern India.
METHODS: Qualitative data were collected between September and December 2018 through eight focus group discussions (FGDs), five in-depth interviews and four key-informant interviews from patients and community members. Community engagement was undertaken prior to the study and all interviews and discussions were recorded with permission. Inductive coding was used to thematically analyse the results.
RESULTS: Major themes included understanding of chronic lung disease, health behaviours, lived experiences with the disease and social norms, attitudes and other factors influencing health behaviour.
DISCUSSION: Poor understanding of CRDs and their risk factors affect health seeking behaviour and/or health practices. Stigma associated with the disease and related health behaviours (e.g. inhaler use) creates emotional challenges and mental health problems, besides influencing health behaviour. However barriers can be circumvented by increasing community awareness; communication and connection with the community through community based health care providers can turn challenges into opportunities for better health care.