From the Journals

Don’t delay palliative care for IPF patients



Rapid deterioration of life quality of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) begins years before death and indicates that early, integrated palliative care should be a priority, according to the finding of a survey study.

Chest x-ray IPFeditor/Wikimedia Commons

“Patients with IPF suffer from exceptionally low [health-related quality of life] together with severe breathlessness and fatigue already two years before death. In addition, physical and emotional well-being further deteriorates near death concurrently with escalating overall symptom burden,” wrote Kaisa Rajala, MD, and her colleagues at Helsinki University Hospital.

They conducted a substudy of patients in the larger FinnishIPF study to assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and symptom burden in the period before death. Among 300 patients invited to participate, 247 agreed. Patient disease and sociodemographic data were collected from the FinnishIPF records and the study group completed questionnaires five times at 6 month intervals. The study began in April 2015 and continued until August 2017, by which time 92 (37%) of the patients had died (BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2018;18:172; doi: 0.1186/s12890-018-0738-x).

The investigators used self-reporting tools to look at HRQOL and symptom burden: RAND 36-item Health Survey (RAND-36), the Modified Medical Research and Council Dyspnea Scale (MMRC), the Modified Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), and the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS).


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