Importance of Educating Patients and Their Proxies on COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that 391 million people in the world are dealing with, causing a considerable burden on society, both psychological and economic.
COPD exacerbations, acute worsening of respiratory symptoms, are a major concern. Other than symptom management, managing COPD exacerbations is crucial, as this is the part where most of the economic burden on the healthcare systems is created. Effective COPD management aims to minimize the current exacerbation's impact and reduce the risk of future exacerbations. This is where self-management programs step in.
Understandably, in order to have efficient self-management, the patients need to know what is going on with themselves, and their disease. Yes, it is of crucial importance that the COPD patients acquire and apply skills, but without the patient’s knowledge on how to cope with the COPD symptoms and exacerbations, one cannot speak of an effective management of this disease. Despite its importance, it was shown that almost only half of the COPD patients had sufficient knowledge on their disease. Not only this, but within the older population it was shown to be common to have only limited knowledge regarding the relationship between health, physical activity and nutrition. This is your chance to inform yourself about the importance of nutrition by clicking here.
It was shown that proxies living together with patients with COPD could have a positive effect on patients in managing their disease. Them having health-related and COPD-specific knowledge could make the process easier for both sides. One of the ways to increase the level of knowledge is by providing education to proxies. Informing caregivers on diseases not only improves the quality of life of the patient, but also of the caregiver, as it results in a reduction of stress. Creating a positive feedback loop, COPD-related knowledge could result in improved caring behavior.
In this study we are about to mention, the researchers included stable patients with moderate to very severe COPD and their resident proxies (194 couples). They then provided them with 34 statements about health and COPD. The patients and proxies (separately) answered these statements by ‘true’, ‘false’, or ‘do not know’.
The result was that both the COPD patients themselves, and their proxies were to answer about only two third of 34 knowledge statements about COPD correctly, meaning that both patients and proxies are not well informed. Even this level of incomplete knowledge may hold back self-management programs from being fully efficient. This is why it is crucially important to educate all subgroups of COPD patients and their proxies about general health and COPD. What was also worth mentioning here is that the COPD patients that attended pulmonary rehabilitation before, answered more statements correctly in comparison to patients who did not attend pulmonary rehabilitation.
Overall, it can be said that the COPD patients and their proxies have only incomplete health related knowledge, which calls for action to make further improvements regarding this issue. As mentioned above, this research also showed that attending pulmonary rehabilitation programs were a plus in the level of education in patients. It cannot be underscored enough that education should be available to all COPD patients and their proxies in primary, secondary and tertiary care to enable efficient self-management, which is undoubtedly a crucial part of COPD management in these times.
At Breathment, we offer an easy and convenient way of self-management of COPD. We know how crucial it is to make sure our patients have knowledge on COPD. This is why we also provide educational content for them to reduce their stress and understand COPD better, in addition to online health coaching. In case if you have any questions and want to learn more, you can always connect our physiotherapists easily to ask questions. Book an appointment with us now to learn more about COPD and how we provide intuitive and easy self-management.