A study of patient attitudes in the United Kingdom toward ventilatory support in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Palliat Med. 2009 Nov;12(11):1029-35. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2009.0160.


Introduction: Informed patient choice is central to modern clinical care but there is a paucity of data about how patients respond to information regarding complex therapies. This qualitative study aimed to understand the attitudes of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) toward acute ventilatory support and assess how aids to decision making regarding ventilation affect patients' views of therapy.

Methods: A standardized five-stage interview process was used to explore attitudes toward noninvasive ventilation (NIV) and invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) in 50 stable COPD patients.

Results: Eighty-six percent found demonstration of NIV helpful in decision making compared to 24% with the photographic aid (p < 00.001). Although 96% were willing to receive NIV after a verbal description of the technique, only 76% consented when a photographic aid was shown. When NIV was demonstrated, willingness rose to 84%. While 60% were willing to receive IMV following a verbal description, this decreased to 58% following explanation of alternative treatments to IMV. Patients willing to receive IMV were younger (67 versus 76 years p = 0.016) and had a better functional status (NEADL index 20 versus 15 units p = 0.03). Only 34% had heard of advanced directives of care (ADCs), none had ever issued one but 48% expressed an interest in doing so following explanation of this process.

Conclusion: COPD patients would find both explanation and demonstration of NIV useful in an outpatient setting. Worsening functional status along with advanced age was associated with reduced willingness to receive invasive ventilatory support. Awareness of ADCs was found to be low although almost half of the patients expressed interest in the uptake of ADCs following explanation of the process.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • United Kingdom