Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand the outcomes for patients admitted to hospital for an acute exacerbation of COPD, and to determine the factors influencing quality of life and health service utilization of patients with COPD.
Methodology: Hospital outcomes of 282 patients with moderate and severe COPD, for an acute exacerbation, were retrospectively evaluated. After 24 months of follow up, health-related quality of life (QoL) and health service utilization (emergency room (ER) visit and readmission) in 54 patients admitted previously, were surveyed by questionnaires.
Results: Of 282 COPD patients admitted for an acute exacerbation, 28 patients (9.9%) died during hospitalization, 241 patients (85.5%) were discharged home, and only 13 patients (4.6%) needed long-term care facilities. Although over 50% of the patients had survived over 2 years after discharge, their QoL was poor. Patients who frequently went to the ER or were admitted, were those with poor QoL, severe dyspnoea and frequent exacerbation. COPD exacerbation and dyspnoea were the main factors influencing QoL of the patients. Age, comorbidity, QoL, FEV1, frequency of COPD exacerbation, long-term oxygen therapy, and family doctor were the factors determining the likelihood of patients visiting the ER. Frequency of COPD exacerbation, family doctor and living alone were the factors determining which patients were likely to be admitted to hospital.
Conclusion: The outcomes and QoL of patients admitted for an acute exacerbation of COPD were poor. The major factors influencing QoL were frequency of COPD exacerbation and severity of dyspnoea. Improvement of social and medical networks (e.g. reducing the number of patients living alone and providing family doctors for patients) may reduce health care service utilization.