Findings from an exploration of a social network intervention to promote diet quality and health behaviours in older adults with COPD: a feasibility study

Lindsay Welch , Ilse Bloom, Ivalylo Vassilev, Anne Rogers, Karen Jameson, Cyrus Cooper, Sian Robinson, Janis Baird

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Diet quality in older people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with better health and lung function. Social factors, such as social support, social networks and participation in activities, have been linked with diet quality in older age. A social network tool - GENIE (Generating Engagement in Network Involvement) - was implemented in a COPD community care context. The study aimed to assess the feasibility of the GENIE intervention to promote diet quality and other health behaviours in COPD. Methods: Twenty-two community-dwelling older adults with COPD were recruited from a local COPD service. Participants were offered usual care or the GENIE intervention. Process evaluation methods were used to assess intervention implementation, context and mechanisms of impact; these included observations of patient interactions with the intervention, documented in observational field notes and in films of a patient group discussion. Diet quality was assessed by food frequency questionnaire; 'prudent' diet scores were used to describe diet quality at baseline and at 3-month follow-up. Change in diet quality was expressed per month, from baseline to follow-up. Results: Feasibility data showed that the GENIE intervention could be implemented in this sample of community-living older people. The intervention was acceptable to clinicians and older people with COPD, especially for those with less severe disease, when facilitated appropriately and considering the levels of literacy of participants. There was no significant change in diet quality in the intervention group over the follow-up period (median change in prudent diet score per month (interquartile range (IQR), 0.03 (- 0.24-0.07)), whereas an overall fall in diet quality was observed in the control group (- 0.15 (- 0.24-0.03)). Conclusion: The process evaluation findings suggest that this intervention is feasible and acceptable to both patients and clinicians. Although the sample size achieved in this study was small, findings suggest that the intervention may have a protective effect against declines in diet quality, and other health behaviours, in an older COPD population. Findings from this feasibility study indicate that further evaluation of the GENIE intervention is warranted in a larger study, with a longer follow-up. Trial registration:, NCT02935452. NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine. Registered 17 October 2016.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)15
    JournalBMC Pilot and Feasbility Studies
    Issue number1
    Early online date6 Feb 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020


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