Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) Pilot RCT

Changes to ‘Pilot Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) of telehealth for early-stage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD)’

Update (Feb 2015): Project is completed. The overall results have been published and are available here.


The current burden of COPD in the UK is around 1.5% of the population. COPD is a long term condition that leads to damaged airways, causing them to become narrow and making it harder for air to get into and out of the lungs. COPD affects one in six smokers aged over 45 years and is characterised by a chronic, progressive decline in lung function. As the disease progresses patients may become house-bound, socially isolated and depressed. Patients with COPD thus experience poor quality of life with impaired emotional, social and physical functioning. Exacerbations in symptoms occur with increasing frequency and often require hospital management.

Project Summary

There is a high incidence of COPD within the area served by NHS Barnsley due to its coal mining history and the relatively high levels of smoking by the population. This research was requested by the service commissioners in Barnsley, who wished to offer telemonitoring for newly-discharged COPD patients through their new COPD Community Discharge Service.


The main aims of the study were to:

- Investigate the feasibility of using telemonitoring in a real-world clinical setting
- To operate as a 'mini-trial' to test all elements of a potential definitive trial as it would be performed.


The research  formed a basis for determining whether the use of a telemonitoring system could increase self-management, reduce hospital admissions and improve quality of life for patients with early stage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) who would be using this technology as part of their post hospital discharge support. Specifically, the pilot compared the use of a telehealth-supported Community COPD Service with the standard Community COPD Service. The study protocol was reviewed by the Consumers in Research Advisory Group (CRAG) prior to starting the research.


The results of the pilot trial have been published, and have informed NHS Barnsley’s strategy for rolling out telehealth to the wider Barnsley population.

Project Partners

CLAHRC partner organisations:
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (BHNFT)
NHS Barnsley (formerly Barnsley Primary Care Trust)

Other partner organisations
Barnsley Local Authority (LA)


The trial protocol has been published and is available through the Articles area of the Resources section, here.

The final results are available here