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COPD survey: 60% of people with chronic respiratory conditions bemoan lack of available support

UK-wide survey of 500 people reveals one in five (21%) are unable to control symptom flare ups and seek help in emergency departments two or more times in a year

UK-wide survey of 500 people reveals one in five (21%) are unable to control symptom flare ups and seek help in emergency departments two or more times in a year


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Nurses can help patients with respiratory conditions avoid unnecessary hospital admissions with clearer advice and support, according to a leading nurse.

A UK-wide survey of 500 people diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) revealed 60% feel there is not enough support available.

The Breathing New Life into COPD survey, carried out by Opinion Health on behalf of pharmaceutical company Chiesi, showed 46% of patients who use inhalers need at least three to help keep their condition under control.

One in five (21%) said being unable to control symptom flare ups caused them to seek help in emergency departments two or more times in a year.

Clearer information vital for patients

Commenting on the findings, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust consultant nurse Jane Scullion believes earlier interventions and clearer information provided by nurses are vital to help patients cope with such conditions.

Ms Scullion, who is also education lead on the UK Inhaler Group, said: ‘COPD is not the easiest acronym in the world and sometimes nurses and others don’t always explain it very well when talking to newly diagnosed-patients.

‘Often the tendency is to simply prescribe medication or inhalers and forget about things like promoting flu vaccines, smoking cessation services and above all the importance of exercise.’

The survey revealed:

  • 58% struggled to do exercise and sport.
  • 48% had difficulty walking up and down stairs.
  • 41% did not go shopping or enjoy social activities.

Out of breath quicker when active

Ms Scullion warned against deconditioning, where patients who experience shortness of breath may avoid exercise and then find they get out of breath even quicker when they are required to be active.

‘It’s a vicious circle’ she said.

‘This is where nurses need to advise about interventions like pulmonary rehabilitation, where patients are supported to increase their lung capacity through exercise.’

1.2 million people in UK affected

COPD affects at least 1.2 million people in the UK and is estimated to cost the NHS more than £800 million a year – and the overall economy some £3.8 billion in lost productivity. Ms Scullion added: ‘Nurses must always review inhaler technique and ensure that it is producing the results it is intended to.’

British Lung Foundation chief executive Penny Woods said: ‘It’s vital that healthcare professionals are supporting patients by helping them to effectively manage their condition at home.

‘Providing information about treatments, services and support beyond the clinic or hospital will play a big part in helping them to adapt to their condition.’


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