Treatment complexity in cystic fibrosis: trends over time and associations with site-specific outcomes

J Cyst Fibros. 2013 Sep;12(5):461-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2012.12.009. Epub 2013 Jan 24.


Background: Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) have increasing treatment complexity and high treatment burden. We describe trends in treatment complexity and evaluate its relationship with health outcomes.

Methods: Using Epidemiologic Study of Cystic Fibrosis (ESCF) data, we developed a treatment complexity score (TCS) from 37 chronic therapies and assessed change by age group (6-13, 14-17, and 18+ years) over a three year period. Differences in average site TCS were evaluated by quartiles based on FEV1, BMI, or Treatment Burden score on the Cystic Fibrosis Questionnaire-Revised (CFQ-R).

Results: TCS scores were calculated for 7252 individual patients (42% child, 16% adolescent, 43% adult) across 153 sites. In 2003, mean TCS was 11.1 for children, 11.8 for adolescents, and 12.1 for adults. In all 3 age groups, TCS increased over 3 years; the increase in TCS from 2003-2005 for children was 1.25 (95% CI 1.16-1.34), for adolescents 0.77 (0.62-0.93), and for adults 1.20 (1.08-1.31) (all P<0.001 for trend over time). At the site level, there were no significant differences in mean TCS based on FEV1 quartile. Mean TCS was higher in the highest BMI z-score quartile. Across all 3 versions of the CFQ-R, mean TCS was lower at sites in the highest quartiles (lowest burden) for CFQ-R treatment burden scores.

Conclusion: Treatment complexity was highest among adults with CF, although over 3 years, we observed a significant increase in treatment complexity in all age groups. Such increases in treatment complexity pose a challenge to patient self-management and adherence. Future research is needed to understand the associations between treatment complexity and subsequent health outcomes to reduce treatment burden and improve disease management.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome