This study was designed to compare the effect of structured education on self-efficacy in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study was carried out with an experimental group on which a structured education was provided, and a control group on which only educational advice was provided. There were 30 patients in both groups. Control and experimental group measurements were obtained on the COPD Self-Efficacy Scale (CSES). There was a significant difference between control group and experimental group scores on the CSES. Self-efficacy, as it affects managing or avoiding breathing difficulty, was measured before and after the structured education program and the nursing care. Patients' self-efficacy scores significantly improved after the structured education and remained significantly improved 1-month later. Standard nursing care alone was also effective in significantly improving self-efficacy scores, but patients' scores 1-month later were not significantly better than pre-program scores. This study indicates that a planned education program that is more effective in improving self-efficacy in patients with COPD. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.