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Palliat Med. 2009 Dec;23(8):691-7. doi: 10.1177/0269216309107003. Epub 2009 Oct 13.

Living with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: patients concerns regarding death and dying.

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S11 9NE, UK. c.gardiner@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

Prognosis in COPD is poor and many patients perceive shortcomings in the education they receive about aspects of their condition. This study explores the experiences of patients with COPD, particularly fears surrounding death and dying. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 patients with moderate or severe COPD. Findings revealed that patient understanding of COPD was poor, most patients were unaware of the progressive nature of the condition, and few were aware they could die of COPD. Despite this, patients often expressed concerns that their condition might deteriorate. Patients had particular concerns regarding the manner of their death; the overriding fear was dying of breathlessness or suffocation. None of the patients' had discussed these fears with a health care professional. Improved patient education is needed in order to improve patients understanding of their condition and prognosis. Open communication regarding death, as advocated in a palliative care approach, is also appropriate to alleviate patients fears and to allow them to make decisions regarding the management of their care at the end of life.

PMID:
19825897
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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