Does Self-Management Education Improve COPD Patient Outcomes?

Recently the Quebec Respiratory Health Education Network conducted a study to determine if a self-management education program with coaching will improve patient outcomes for people with COPD, and also if it will lead to practice changes in primary care for these patients.

COPD Patient Education In the Study

In the study, COPD patients from six family medicine clinics participated in a one-year educational program that focused on adherence to treatment, inhaler techniques, following an exacerbation action plan, and smoking cessation. All of these aspects of treatment were assessed at each visit by asking questions about the patient’s use of health care, health-related quality of life, inhaler technique, adherence to treatment, and COPD knowledge.

COPD Testing Tools and Assessments by Primary Care Physicians That Were Studied

The use of spirometry and individual needs assessment by the primary care physician also were studied to determine whether the information gathered led to more COPD-targeted treatment by the doctors. Changes in prescriptions for COPD, including medications, immunizations, and written action plans, were studied as indicators of the level of COPD targeting in treatment.

Patient Outcomes After COPD Self-Management Education

Fifty-four patients completed the study, and the results were rather remarkable. Among those patients, 40 unscheduled physician visits occurred before the self-management education. After one year of educational intervention, the number of unscheduled visits dropped to 17. Emergency visits dropped from 5 in the year prior to the program to 2 in the year after. Hospitalizations, on the other hand, increased from 2 to 3.

As for measurements of each patient’s “COPD education outcome,” significant improvements were noted in their health-related quality of life, adequate inhaler technique, treatment adherence, and COPD knowledge.

Changes in Physician Treatment After the Use of COPD Measurement and Assessment Tools

Among the primary care physicians that were studied, it was found that after the study they increased their prescriptions for long-acting bronchodilators (with or without inhaled corticosteroid), flu immunizations, and COPD action plans to be followed if a patient experienced an exacerbation.

Though this study was small, it suggests the value of self-management education.

Information for this article was obtained from the Chronic Respiratory Disease Journal.

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