More education, communication needed between patients, physicians

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WASHINGTON – More than half of COPD patients don’t fully understand their disease or how to manage it, according to a new survey from the COPD Foundation.

The two-part Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Experience (COPE) surveyed both patients and physicians.

Nearly 62% of patients said they don’t know much about COPD exacerbations—a leading cause of hospitalization in the United States. Another 16% said they don’t know what an exacerbation is at all, and 60% said they don’t have a plan for dealing with an exacerbation.

By contrast, 98% of physicians said they discuss exacerbations with patients and 92% said they develop action plans with them.

The survey also found that many patients aren’t being diagnosed early enough. On this, patients and physicians appear to agree. Patients said they experience symptoms of COPD for two years and nine months, on average, before diagnosis; physicians said that 39% of their patients had reached a “severe” or “very severe” disease state by diagnosis.

“COPD can be treated—but it’s crucial for doctors to diagnose it early and for patients to follow the appropriate therapeutic strategies to improve symptoms, increase activity, and reduce the chances of exacerbations,” said MeiLan Han, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Michigan.