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Respir Med. 1998 Jan;92(1):70-5.

Characteristics and complaints of patients prescribed long-term oxygen therapy in The Netherlands.

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Centre for Home Mechanical Ventilation, University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.


In patients prescribed long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT), compliance is often poor. Both patient- and treatment-related factors seem to be involved. As a base for improvements in LTOT, the characteristics and complaints of LTOT patients were investigated. A survey was set up in a random sample of clients of the largest oxygen company in the Netherlands. Patients were selected if they were > or = 18 years old, had a phone and if they had had oxygen equipment for > or = 6 months. All patients were visited at home by a medical student. Data are presented for a total of 528 patients (response rate 62%). The typical LTOT patient was a 70-year-old male with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who had had oxygen equipment for 3.5 years and who used oxygen cylinders and nasal cannulae for 13 h day-1. Twenty percent of the patients still smoked. Although LTOT was prescribed in 80% of the patients by a chest physician, prescription was often inadequate. Only 33% of the patients were informed adequately about the therapy. Twenty percent of the patients used oxygen for fewer hours per day than prescribed. Non-compliant patients were mainly men (P = 0.006) and more often ashamed of their therapy (P = 0.023) than compliant patients. The blood oxygen level was monitored regularly in 73% of the patients. Most complaints concerned the oxygen equipment, especially the concentrator. The single most important complaint had to do with restricted autonomy. Only 19% of the patients had no complaints at all. It is concluded that LTOT should be improved with regard to the education, motivation and monitoring of patients. The prescribing physician needs to be included in an education programme. Given the numerous problems these patients experience, LTOT should be improved in particular with regard to equipment convenience.

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