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The view of pulmonologists on palliative care for patients with COPD: a survey study

Authors Duenk RG, Verhagen C, Dekhuijzen PNR, Vissers KCP, Engels Y, Heijdra Y

Received 1 September 2016

Accepted for publication 19 October 2016

Published 17 January 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 299—311


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

RG Duenk,1 C Verhagen,1 PNR Dekhuijzen,2 KCP Vissers,1 Y Engels,1,* Y Heijdra2,*

Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, 2Department of Lung Diseases, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Early palliative care is not a common practice for patients with COPD. Important barriers are the identification of patients for palliative care and the organization of such care in this patient group.
Objective: Pulmonologists have a central role in providing good quality palliative care for patients with COPD. To guide future research and develop services, their view on palliative care for these patients was explored.
Methods: A survey study was performed by the members of the Netherlands Association of Physicians for Lung Diseases and Tuberculosis.
Results: The 256 respondents (31.8%) covered 85.9% of the hospital organizations in the Netherlands. Most pulmonologists (92.2%) indicated to distinguish a palliative phase in the COPD trajectory, but there was no consensus about the different criteria used for its identification. Aspects of palliative care in COPD considered important were advance care planning conversation (82%), communication between pulmonologist and general practitioner (77%), and identification of the palliative phase (75.8%), while the latter was considered the most important aspect for improvement (67.6%). Pulmonologists indicated to prefer organizing palliative care for hospitalized patients with COPD themselves (55.5%), while 30.9% indicated to prefer cooperation with a specialized palliative care team (SPCT). In the ambulatory setting, a multidisciplinary cooperation between pulmonologist, general practitioner, and a respiratory nurse specialist was preferred (71.1%).
Conclusion: To encourage pulmonologists to timely initiate palliative care in COPD, we recommend to conduct further research into more specific identification criteria. Furthermore, pulmonologists should improve their skills of palliative care, and the members of the SPCT should be better informed about the management of COPD to improve care during hospitalization. Communication between pulmonologist and general practitioner should be emphasized in training to improve palliative care in the ambulatory setting.

proactive palliative care, pulmonologists, identification, organization, cooperation

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