Background: After the Great East Japan Earthquake, oxygen-dependent patients in areas experiencing power outages could not continue home oxygen therapy (HOT) without oxygen cylinders. The purpose of this study was to examine use of oxygen cylinders in areas experiencing power outages and the effects of HOT interruption on patients' health.
Methods: Questionnaires were mailed to 1106 oxygen-dependent patients and HOT-prescribing physicians in Akita, near the disaster-stricken area. We investigated patients' actions when unable to use an oxygen concentrator and classified the patients based on oxygen cylinder use. Patients who experienced an interruption of or reduction in oxygen flow rate by their own judgment were assigned to the "interruption" and "reduction" groups, respectively; those who maintained their usual flow rate were assigned to the "continuation" group. Differences were tested using analysis of variance and the χ2 tests.
Results: In total, 599 patients responded to the questionnaire. Oxygen cylinders were supplied to 574 patients (95.8%) before their oxygen cylinders were depleted. Comparison of the continuation (n=356), reduction (n=64), and interruption (n=154) groups showed significant differences in family structure (p=0.004), underlying disease (p=0.014), oxygen flow rate (p<0.001), situation regarding use (p<0.001), knowledge of HOT (p<0.001), and anxiety about oxygen supply (p<0.001). There were no differences in changes in physical condition.
Conclusions: Most patients could receive oxygen cylinders after the disaster. Some patients discontinued their usual oxygen therapy, but their overall health status was not affected.
Copyright © 2012 The Japanese Respiratory Society. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.