The palliative care needs for fibrotic interstitial lung disease: a qualitative study of patients, informal caregivers and health professionals

Palliat Med. 2013 Oct;27(9):869-76. doi: 10.1177/0269216313497226. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


Background: While there have been some studies looking at the impact on quality of life of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, to date no qualitative research looking at the specialist palliative needs of these patients has been conducted.

Aim: This study aims to explore the specialist palliative care needs of people living with end-stage progressive idiopathic fibrotic interstitial lung disease. DESIGN AND SETTINGS/PARTICIPANTS: In total, 18 qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with patients, their informal caregivers and health professionals across two specialist interstitial lung disease centres in London and in the community.

Results: Many participants reported uncontrolled symptoms of shortness of breath, cough and insomnia, which profoundly impacted every part of patients' and informal caregivers' lives. Psychologically, patients were frustrated and angry at the way in which their illness severely limited their ability to engage in activities of daily living and compromised their independence. Furthermore, both patients and informal caregivers also reported that the disease seriously affected family relationships where strain was pronounced. There was varied knowledge and confidence among health professionals in managing symptoms, and psychosocial needs were often underestimated.

Conclusion: This study is the first of its kind to examine in depth the impact of symptoms and psychosocial needs revealing the profound effect on every aspect of progressive idiopathic fibrotic interstitial lung disease patients' and informal caregivers' lives. Education and guidance of appropriate palliative care interventions to improve symptom control are needed. A case conference intervention with individualised care plans may help in addressing the substantial symptom control and psychosocial needs of these patients and informal caregivers.

Keywords: Pulmonary fibrosis; interstitial; lung diseases; palliative care; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / complications*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care