Use of Palliative Care, Oxygen Therapy Increasing for COPD

Increase in use of formal palliative care services, long-term oxygen, but proportions still remain low
Increase in use of formal palliative care services, long-term oxygen, but proportions still remain low

(HealthDay News) — For patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the use of formal palliative care services and long-term oxygen therapy has increased but remains low, according to a study published online June 11 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Andrea S. Gershon, M.D., from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, and colleagues described trends in use of end-of-life care strategies by people with advanced COPD. The annual proportions of individuals who received formal palliative care, long-term oxygen therapy, or opioids from 2004 to 2014 were ascertained.

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A total of 151,912 individuals with advanced COPD were identified in Ontario between 2004 and 2014. The researchers found that there was a 1 percent increase per year in the use of formal palliative care services, from 5.3 percent in 2004 to 14.3 percent in 2014 (P for trend < 0.001); use of long-term oxygen therapy increased 1.1 percent per year, from 26.4 percent in 2004 to 35.3 percent in 2013 (P for trend < 0.001). Opioid use remained stable (40 percent in 2004 and 41.8 percent in 2014; P for trend = 0.08). The likelihood of using formal palliative care services and long-term oxygen therapy was lower among younger individuals.

"Efforts should focus on increasing access to such strategies as well as educating patients and providers of their benefits," the authors write.

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