Purpose of review: The care of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is challenging at a time when there are no medications with proven efficacy in extending patient survival or quality of life. However, a number of recent studies suggest that patients participating in clinical trials including the placebo arm have improved outcome. This suggests that there are elements of supportive care which may prove beneficial to IPF patients. Further, control of patient symptoms should be a critical goal in care of patients with IPF.
Recent findings: A number of both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapies are available to reduce symptoms in patients with IPF. These include low-dose narcotics, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy. Further, addressing issues of depression may be beneficial for symptom management. Palliative care can and should be more fully integrated in the care of patients with IPF.
Summary: Incorporating supportive and palliative measures in the care of patients with IPF may improve both quality of life and survival, but far more research is needed in this fledgling field.