Date of Conferral





Health Services


Suzanne Richins


Since 2014, hospital administrators initiated several measures to reduce the 30-day readmission rates for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The research problem was that the respiratory therapists (RTs) were excluded from the discharge planning teams in many hospitals while 20% of patients with COPD continue to be readmitted within 30-day post discharge. The purpose of this qualitative study was to seek understanding of the care managers’ perceptions regarding the potential role of the respiratory therapists in the discharge planning for patients with COPD. The theoretical framework for this study was the systems theory in management. The research questions addressed the perceptions of care managers regarding the potential role of RTs in the discharge planning and the potential impact of the RTs on the 30-day readmission rate for patients with COPD. The method of data collection was semi-structured interviews of a sample of 12 care managers from 9 states with 12 months’ work experience in hospitals and 12 months experience in discharging patients with COPD. Data analysis included separating the data into codes, categories, and themes manually using structural and descriptive coding. The key results showed the need for RTs to educate, coach, and train inpatients and outpatients, and the RTs will contribute to decreasing the 30-day readmission rates. Recommendations for further research include seeking the perceptions of hospitals’ leaders and outpatients’ facilities leaders. The study may influence positive social changes such as increasing the awareness of the care managers about the potential role of the RTs when discharging patients with COPD and giving the RTs an active role in the discharge planning for patients with COPD.