Guidelines for care of elderly patients ignored

July 8, 2008

Guidelines for the treatment of older patients with respiratory conditions are routinely ignored. Research published today in the open access journal BMC Health Services Research shows that recommended treatments are given to only a small minority of eligible patients.

Benjamin Craig from the Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, USA, led a team who investigated the treatment of nearly 30,000 patients across the US. According to Craig, "Despite the proliferation of numerous guidelines for the management of adults with obstructive respiratory diseases, we found major disparities between the actual care given and that which is recommended".

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma are leading causes of death in people over the age of 45 in the US. COPD claims the lives of around 30,000 people per year in the UK. Guidelines for treatment of these conditions have been available for a number of years.

They emphasize the importance of lung function tests, access to inhalers, influenza vaccination and smoking cessation. However, as Craig reports, "Slightly less than 22% of older adults with asthma or COPD received bronchodilator inhalers. An even smaller minority received one or more lung function examinations during the year and 18% were not vaccinated against influenza".

A substantial portion (16%) of the patients were smokers and the majority (53%) were former smokers. The researchers found that current smokers were less likely to receive care than those who had never smoked or who had quit. Craig explained that, "The finding that smokers receive less care is both troubling and intriguing. There may be a group of patients with such a strong nicotine addiction that quitting would be very difficult. It might be that some of these patients withdraw from care to avoid uncomfortable encounters with physicians who urge smoking cessation. Alternatively, of course, some physicians may dismiss smokers because they have failed to change their behaviour."

The researchers conclude that the needs of older adults with obstructive respiratory disease and possible nicotine addiction deserve special attention and that guidelines require further development and much wider implementation.

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: A cough that won't quit—is it lung cancer?

Related Stories

A cough that won't quit—is it lung cancer?

December 15, 2017
Coughing removes particles, mucus, irritants or fluids from the lungs. It may be caused by something in the air, such as cooking fumes, perfume or spices, or it may be related to congestion caused by a cold, allergies or ...

LDL cholesterol found to be the main modifiable predictor of atherosclerosis in individuals with no risk factor

December 11, 2017
LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), known as 'bad' cholesterol, is the underlying reason why many apparently healthy individuals have heart attacks or strokes during middle age despite not having cardiovascular risk factors such as ...

Majority of smokers surveyed think flavored tobacco sales should be restricted

December 1, 2017
A survey conducted by UMass Medical School students found that 86 percent of Worcester adults surveyed—including 72 percent of those surveyed who smoke—believe flavored tobacco products should be sold exclusively by adult-only ...

Smoking study personalizes treatment

November 17, 2017
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and ...

What is inflammation and how does it cause disease?

December 4, 2017
Inflammation has a major impact on our health and quality of life. It's the trigger behind many chronic diseases and a growing burden affecting health care across the globe. But what is inflammation? And what causes it?

Doctors urged to make public commitment to talk to patients about guns and gun safety

October 17, 2017
As guardians of health and gatekeepers to the world of medicine, primary care doctors are expected to plunge dauntlessly into the most delicate topics with their patients. Now, in the wake of the worst mass shooting in recent ...

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.