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Published online: 2024-06-27

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Communication regarding sickness and end of life in patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a multicenter questionnaire survey

Beata Brożek1, Iwona Damps-Konstańska2, Szymon Skoczyński3, Ewa Jassem4, Małgorzata Krajnik1


Background: Higher levels of knowledge about the disease among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were shown to result in better physician-patient communication. Nonetheless, a sizable percentage of patients within this group continue to lack sufficient information about their disease and prognosis. The objective of this study was to collect the opinions of COPD patients regarding their knowledge of their condition, the sources of this knowledge, the most important barriers to end-of-life communication, and the needs regarding such communication from a pneumonologist.

Subjects and methods: A questionnaire survey was carried out among 474 patients with advanced COPD at three pneumonology centers in Poland (Gdańsk, Katowice, Toruń). The questionnaire consisted of a total of 25 questions. The article presents the conclusions of the part of the survey relating to the level of patients’ knowledge of their condition and end-of-life communication with physicians.

Results: Slightly more than 40% of respondents declared their knowledge of the disease to be good or sufficient (“I have good knowledge or I have some knowledge”). The primary source of knowledge for survey participants was their physicians, albeit a vast majority of patients have not talked to their physicians about the subsequent course of their illness. The main barriers to end-of-life discussions as pointed out by the patients included insufficient time when visiting a specialist, the lack of notions regarding the further course of the disease, the lack of knowledge on the disease and end-of-life issues, or the reluctance to discuss such topics.

Conclusions: The analysis of the data confirms the continued deficit of knowledge regarding the future course of the disease among COPD patients as the majority of them have not discussed this issue with their physicians despite having identified them as the primary source of disease-related information.

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