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Communication about palliative care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Curtis JR, Engelberg RA, Wenrich MD, Au DH. Communication about palliative care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Journal of palliative care. 2005 Oct 12; 21(3):157-64.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of mortality and disability worldwide. For many patients, maximal therapy for COPD produces only modest relief of disabling symptoms and these symptoms result in a significantly reduced quality of life. Despite the high morbidity and mortality, patients with COPD do not receive adequate palliative care. One reason these patients may receive poor quality palliative care is that patient-physician communication about palliative and EOL care is unlikely to occur. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent research regarding patient-physician communication about palliative care for patients with COPD. Understanding the barriers to this communication may be an important step to improving communication about EOL care and improving patient-centred outcomes. Two areas that may influence the quality of care received by patients with COPD are also highlighted: 1) the role of depression, a common problem in patients with COPD, in physician-patient communication; and 2) the role of advance care planning in this communication. Further research is needed to develop and test interventions that can enhance patient-physician communication about palliative and EOL care for patients with COPD, and we describe our perspective on a research agenda in each area.

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