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Palliative Care Provision for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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Palliative Care Provision for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Abebaw Mengistu Yohannes. Health Qual Life Outcomes.

Abstract

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of disability, morbidity and mortality in old age. Patients with advanced stage COPD are most likely to be admitted three to four times per year with acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) which are costly to manage. The adverse events of AECOPD are associated with poor quality of life, severe physical disability, loneliness, and depression and anxiety symptoms. Currently there is a lack of palliative care provision for patients with advanced stage COPD compared with cancer patients despite having poor prognosis, intolerable dyspnoea, lower levels of self efficacy, greater disability, poor quality of life and higher levels of anxiety and depression. These symptoms affect patients' quality of life and can be a source of concern for family and carers as most patients are likely to be housebound and may be in need of continuous support and care. Evidence of palliative care provision for cancer patients indicate that it improves quality of life and reduces health care costs. The reasons why COPD patients do not receive palliative care are complex. This partly may relate to prognostic accuracy of patients' survival which poses a challenge for healthcare professionals, including general practitioners for patients with advanced stage COPD, as they are less likely to engage in end-of-life care planning in contrast with terminal disease like cancer. Furthermore there is a lack of resources which constraints for the wider availability of the palliative care programmes in the health care system. Potential barriers may include unwillingness of patients to discuss advance care planning and end-of-life care with their general practitioners, lack of time, increased workload, and fear of uncertainty of the information to provide about the prognosis of the disease and also lack of appropriate tools to guide general practitioners when to refer patients for palliative care. COPD is a chronic incurable disease; those in an advanced stage of the disease pursuing intensive medical treatment may also benefit from the simultaneous holistic care approach of palliative care services, medical services and social services to improve quality of end of life care.

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