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Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2017 Jun 9;12:1721-1729. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S135657. eCollection 2017.

Palliative care and prognosis in COPD: a systematic review with a validation cohort.

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Multimorbidity Patients Unit, Internal Medicine Department, Hospital Universitario Mutua de Terrassa, Universidad de Barcelona, Terrassa, Barcelona.
Department of Pneumology, Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid.
Department of Pneumology, Hospital Arnau de Vilanova-Lliria, Valencia.
Instituto de Investigación Hospital Universitario de la Princesa (IISP), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid.
Department of Pneumology, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, CIBER de Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES), Barcelona, Spain.


Current recommendations to consider initiation of palliative care (PC) in COPD patients are often based on an expected poor prognosis. However, this approach is not evidence-based, and which and when COPD patients should start PC is controversial. We aimed to assess whether current suggested recommendations for initiating PC were sufficiently reliable. We identified prognostic variables proposed in the literature for initiating PC; then, we ascertained their relationship with 1-year mortality, and finally, we validated their utility in our cohort of 697 patients hospitalized for COPD exacerbation. From 24 articles of 499 screened, we selected 20 variables and retrieved 48 original articles in which we were able to calculate the relationship between each of them and 1-year mortality. The number of studies where 1-year mortality was detailed for these variables ranged from 9 for previous hospitalizations or FEV1 ≤30% to none for albumin ≤25 mg/dL. The percentage of 1-year mortality in the literature for these variables ranged from 5% to 60%. In the validation cohort study, the prevalence of these proposed variables ranged from 8% to 64%; only 10 of the 18 variables analyzed in our cohort reached statistical significance with Cox regression analysis, and none overcame an area under the curve ≥0.7. We conclude that none of the suggested criteria for initiating PC based on an expected poor vital prognosis in COPD patients in the short or medium term offers sufficient reliability, and consequently, they should be avoided as exclusive criteria for considering PC or at least critically appraised.


COPD; end of life; mortality; palliative care; prognosis; survival

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