Lung disease sufferers falling 'under the radar'

Human lungs. Image by iStock.

South Australians suffering from the most common fatal lung disease face an ongoing struggle with health services, according to new research from the University of Adelaide.

The results of the study - now published in the Internal Medicine Journal - highlight a wide range of problems with the care of with COPD ().

The study's authors make a number of recommendations for changes to healthcare that would improve patients' lives.

COPD is most commonly caused by smoking and is an increasing cause of deaths in Australia and around the world. with end-stage COPD can experience physical symptoms and as severe as patients with .

The study involved interviews with COPD patients, their carers, experts, and healthcare service providers, to better understand the level of care and quality of life experienced by patients.

It found that the needs of people with COPD are not being met by the :

-- there is no coordinated plan for their healthcare, which is fragmented and reactive;
-- there is a lack of communication between GPs and hospital specialists;
-- there are barriers to obtaining support to assist with daily living;
-- the role of carers assisting patients in the home is poorly recognised;
-- with COPD find it harder to access compared with , despite the severity of their condition;
-- there is no clear transition from severe COPD to end-stage disease, and a palliative approach to care and active treatment can occur at the same time.

"There is no doubt that there are severe problems with the healthcare of people with COPD. This is a group of with specific needs that is falling under the radar," says the study's lead author, Associate Professor Gregory Crawford from the University of Adelaide's School of Medicine.

"COPD has a devastating impact on people's lives, both in terms of their physical functioning and social roles.

"Breathlessness means that basic tasks such as personal care, cooking and cleaning are a struggle for all sufferers, and impossible for many. Activities outside the home are restricted. There is a strong sense of panic among because of their severe breathlessness.

"For those who live alone, the challenges of managing day-to-day are enormous. Carers - for those who are lucky enough to have them - are over-burdened.

"The main focus of service provision should be on assisting people to live at home, providing access to a range of community services and an increased recognition of, and support for, carers," Associate Professor Crawford says.

"A palliative approach should be taken at all phases of the illness, with a focus on the patients' needs, not on their age or prognosis, with clear plans and communication about the focus of care and treatment options, good symptom management and emotional and psychological support."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Common bronchodilator linked to increased deaths

Sep 15, 2008

A common bronchodilator drug which has been used for more than a decade by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been linked to a one-third higher risk of cardiovascular-related deaths.

Recommended for you

Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

1 hour ago

A worsening outbreak of dengue fever in Japan has claimed its first celebrities—two young models sent on assignment to the Tokyo park believed to be its source.

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

1 hour ago

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

13 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

19 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

Sep 01, 2014

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments