According to a study, researchers describe trends in the use of end of life care strategies by people with advanced COPD in Ontario, Canada. 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. The study was published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers described trends in the 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. A total of 151,912 individuals with advanced COPD were identified in Ontario between 2004 and 2014.

Palliative Care Services

The researchers found that there was a 1% increase per year in the use of formal palliative care services, from 5.3% in 2004 to 14.3% in 2014 (P for trend < 0.001); use of long-term oxygen therapy increased 1.1% per year, from 26.4% in 2004 to 35.3% in 2013 (P for trend < 0.001). Opioid use remained stable (40% in 2004 and 41.8% in 2014; P for trend = 0.08).

Long-term Oxygen Therapy

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 proportion of people with advanced COPD using the end of life strategies, although increasing, remains low. Efforts should focus on increasing access to such strategies as well as educating patients and providers of their benefits.