Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate Canadian amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) centres with respect to: 1) the prevalence of Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) and invasive mechanical ventilation via tracheostomy (TV) utilization, 2) the approach to NIPPV use, focusing upon the currently employed initiation criteria and 3) the barriers influencing NIPPV administration.
Methods: A descriptive survey research design aimed to obtain quantitative data and open-ended responses from an active physician at each of the 15 multidisciplinary Canadian ALS centres.
Results: The principal findings of this study were: 1) NIPPV and TV are used in 18.3% and 1.5% of patients at Canadian ALS centres, respectively, 2) symptoms of respiratory insufficiency, namely orthopnea (clinical significance rated at 9.00/10 +/- 1.48), dyspnea (8.27 +/- 1.95) and morning headache (7.55 +/- 1.21) are the most significant indicators for NIPPV initiation, 3) the primary barriers to NIPPV utilization are patient intolerance (70% of centres) and inaccessibility of respirologists and ventilation technologists (50% of centres).
Conclusions: Variability in NIPPV use has an impact upon the management of Canadian ALS patients. The establishment of more definitive NIPPV initiation criteria, emphasizing respiratory symptoms, and the attenuation of barriers to NIPPV use should be targeted so as to ensure optimal care for all ALS patients.