Editorials

Action plans for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1164 (Published 06 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1164
  1. Graeme P Currie, consultant chest and general physician1,
  2. David Miller, clinical research fellow2
  1. 1Chest Clinic C, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN, UK
  2. 2Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  1. graeme.currie{at}nhs.net

Useful in motivated patients and when combined with other resources

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) tends to be punctuated by repeated episodes of acute and sustained worsening of respiratory symptoms that require patients to seek medical help or alter treatment.1 The number of such exacerbations presenting to primary and secondary healthcare services will probably increase in the future as populations age, rates of smoking worldwide are maintained, and people in developing countries burn indoor biomass fuels for heating and cooking.

Patients who experience repeated exacerbations have an accelerated decline in lung function and health status,2 impaired quality of life,3 more troublesome symptoms,4 and higher mortality than those without such exacerbations.5 Because prompt recognition and treatment result in quicker resolution of symptoms and reduced risk of hospital admission,6 a simple intervention that could facilitate this and thereby reduce the need for contact with community healthcare services or hospital is attractive. In the linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.e1060) Bucknall and colleagues investigate whether self management in COPD—the keeping of a symptom diary and use of an action plan comprising advice on what …

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