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COPD patients' medical care and support in Greece during financial crisis

Authors Mitonas G, Juvana A, Daniil Z, Hatzoglou C, Gourgoulianis K

Received 6 February 2016

Accepted for publication 20 March 2016

Published 10 November 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 401—407


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

George Mitonas,1 Alexia Juvana,2 Zoe Daniil,3 Chryssa Hatzoglou,4 Konstantinos Gourgoulianis3

1Diavata Health Center, Gennimatas General Hospital, 2Papageorgiou General Hospital, Thessaloniki, 3Pulmonary Medicine Department, University Hospital of Larissa, 4Physiology Department, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece

Background: The need to follow a multidisciplinary strategy in chronic obstructive ­pulmonary disease (COPD) management and rehabilitation in community settings in Greece raises significant questions, given the severe austerity measures being imposed at present. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical profile of patients with COPD along with the care provided in rural community settings in Greece.
Methods: Two primary health care centers and 200 newly diagnosed patients over a 12-month period were involved in the study. A self-assessment questionnaire, including questions about smoking habits, the presence of comorbidities and chronic respiratory symptoms, as well as the COPD Assessment Test were used. Spirometry was performed with a dry spirometer. Obstructive spirometry was defined as forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity ratio <0.7, according to Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease guidelines.
Results: Males comprised 70% of the sample, with cough and sputum being the prominent signs. Regarding COPD staging, 68.5% were classified in stages I/II. Arterial hypertension and coronary heart disease were the most common comorbidities. Current smokers accounted for 88.5%, while 88% were heavy drinkers. A general practitioner made the diagnosis in 68.5% of the cases, among which offspring and spouses provided home care in 38% and 8% of the cases, respectively, while an informal caregiver other than a relative was reported in 34% of the cases. No caregiver (self-care) was reported in 20% of the cases. All patients of stage III and IV had a COPD Assessment Test score >10.
Conclusion: Patients with COPD dwelling in the community exhibit an overall mild-to-moderate type of COPD. General practitioner is in charge of COPD management. Informal caregiving is the major type of home care, with nonfamily members playing a significant role. The patients’ profile permits limited optimism about their future perspective and urges for immediate action at primary care level.

Keywords: COPD, primary care, Greece, caregiver, general practitioner

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