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Palliative Care Models for COPD

Palliative care services are designed to make symptomatic patients as comfortable as possible while managing their COPD. Palliative care typically occurs alongside treatment and can help relieve suffering by offering help with symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, pain, depression, and anxiety. This care approach aligns well with COPD treatment, since it is a highly symptomatic condition that often intersects with burdensome comorbidities. A palliative care model can help improve patient well-being and quality of life.

For additional information about rural palliative care, see the Rural Hospice and Palliative Care topic guide.

Examples of Palliative Care Models

  • Project ENABLE II (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) is using telehealth to offer palliative care to patients with serious illnesses, along with their caregivers. While the program was designed specifically for patients with heart failure or advanced cancer, efforts are underway to tailor this intervention to the needs of COPD patients.
  • Based in rural Zanesville, Ohio, Genesis Hospital's Palliative Care Home Program was designed for patients who may have barriers to accessing care. The palliative care team consists of specialized physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and chaplains to help provide comfort care at home (or in nursing homes or the hospital).

Considerations for Implementation

The topic of palliative care is frequently avoided, as many people confuse palliative care and hospice. Hospice is a type of palliative care that is generally designed for patients with a life expectancy of shorter than six months. Understanding the differences between these two terms may make the topic more palatable when discussing treatment options.

Additional research into palliative care services offered in rural areas is needed. A 2015 systematic review found promising approaches in the use of telehealth, academic partnerships with communities, and in training for healthcare providers. However, the researchers recommended additional studies for exploring best practices. A 2018 review found that palliative care telephone support significantly improved mood, suggesting promising results with the use of telehealth.

Resources to Learn More

Palliative Care and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Where the Lines Meet
Document
Review article that identifies the palliative care needs of patients with advanced COPD.
Author(s): Harrington, S.E., Rogers, E., & Davis, M.
Citation: Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 23(2), 154-160
Date: 03/2017

Palliative Care and COPD
Website
Provides an overview of the benefits of palliative care among COPD patients and includes information on how to access palliative care.
Organization(s): American Lung Association

Palliative Care in COPD Patients: Is It Only an End-of-Life Issue?
Document
Provides information on palliative interventions, including rehabilitation, noninvasive ventilation, oxygen, and the use of opioids.
Author(s): Carlucci, A., Guerrieri, A., & Nava, S.
Citation: European Respiratory Review, 21(126), 347-354
Date: 2012