Rationale: In recent decades, diagnosis and treatment recommendations for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) have changed. In Korea, the average life expectancy has increased, unmet healthcare needs have been reduced, and the number of computed tomographic examinations performed has nearly doubled. The Korean Interstitial Lung Disease Study Group conducted a nationwide cohort study for idiopathic interstitial pneumonia, including IPF, and established a registry for IPF.Objectives: Using study data collected by the study group, this study aimed to evaluate longitudinal changes in clinical features, diagnosis, treatment, and mortality and analyze the extent to which changes in medication usage affected IPF-associated mortality.Methods: The study population included newly diagnosed patients with IPF from a cohort study (January 2002 to September 2008, n = 1,839, 2008 group) and prospective registry (January 2012 to August 2018, n = 1,345, 2018 group). Survival curves were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method, and Cox regression models were used to identify mortality-associated risk factors in each group.Results: The 2018 group was younger, had fewer symptoms, had less honeycombing, underwent more serologic autoimmune marker and pulmonary function tests, had higher oxygen partial pressure and lower carbon dioxide partial pressure values, was less frequently diagnosed by surgical biopsy, and had better survival than the 2008 group. Steroid use and conservative care declined, whereas N-acetylcysteine use increased in this group. Antifibrotic agents were used in only the 2018 group. In the 2008 group, N-acetylcysteine was associated with lower mortality, whereas conservative care was associated with higher mortality. In the 2018 group, the use of antifibrotic agents was associated with lower mortality, and steroid use was associated with higher mortality. The survival rates in the 2008 and 2018 non-antifibrotic agent subgroups were similar.Conclusions: This study analyzed national IPF cohort data spanning 17 years. In clinical practice, the IPF diagnosis was made earlier, steroid and immunosuppressive agent use was reduced, and antifibrotic agents were administered. The survival of patients with IPF has improved over the decades, and antifibrotic use was consistently associated with improved survival.Clinical trial registered with clinicaltrials.gov (NCT04160715).
Keywords: clinical epidemiology; interstitial lung disease; pulmonary fibrosis.