2005 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
ASSESSMENT OF COPD PATIENTS' UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR DISEASE AND THE IMPACT OF PATIENT EDUCATION
Jennifer Dean, Julie Smith, CRT, Bill Pruitt, MBA, RRT, CPFT, affiliated with the Cardiorespiratory Care Department, College of Allied Health Professions, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL, Madhuri Mulekar, PhD, affiliated with the Mathematics and Statistics Department, College of Arts & Sciences, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL.
BACKGROUND: Despite having an established diagnosis of COPD and receiving aerosolized medication for their symptoms while in the hospital, we suspected that many of these patients had a poor understanding of their disease. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and causes of COPD may motivate patients to be more compliant with their self-care and if the patient is still smoking, may motivate them to quit. We hypothesized that COPD patients have little or no understanding of COPD and that patient education can improve their understanding.
METHOD: Adult patients were identified by having orders for aerosol therapy and the patients' informed consent to participate in the IRB-approved study was obtained. We gathered information on the patient's cardiopulmonary history from the medical record, verified that they were receiving aerosolized medications per physician's order, and confirmed the diagnosis of COPD. A pre-teaching quiz (pre-TQ) was completed by interviewing the patients to assess their initial understanding of their disease. After the pre-TQ they received verbal teaching and written information on COPD including basic anatomy, physiology, risk factors, pathophysiology, and a review of medications used to treat COPD. 3 to 4 days later, a post-teaching quiz (post-TQ) was completed by the patients to assess the impact of the educational session and written information. The pre- and post-TQ utilized the same questions.
RESULTS: Twenty-five inpatients participated in the pre-TQ and educational session. Twenty-one patients participated in the post-TQ. 7/21 patients in the post-TQ group had been discharged from the hospital and were contacted by phone. 2 of the 25 (8%) patients said they had never been told they had any lung disease. 4/25 (16%) said they had been told they had "some kind of lung disease" but didn't know the specific diagnosis. 16/25 (64%) could not define the term COPD. Regarding the 12 statements on the quiz describing specific signs, symptoms and/or causes of COPD, the pre-TQ mean for correct answers was 8.68 (±1.68.) and the post-TQ mean for correct answers was 10.19 (±1.03), p < 0.0001.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with COPD know they have "some kind of lung disease" but many are uninformed about the diagnosis of COPD and have a poor understanding of the definition, signs, symptoms, and causes of COPD. Providing patient education significantly improved scores on the post-teaching quiz. Respiratory therapists can easily include basic information about COPD and answer patient's questions while caring for these patients. More study is needed to see if, with improved COPD patient education, better self-care and improved smoking cessation rates can be achieved.