Supplementary Material for: Can Early Introduction of Palliative Care Limit Intensive Care, Emergency and Hospital Admissions in Patients with Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease? A Pilot Randomized Study

Background: Despite their poor prognosis, patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have little access to palliative care and tend to have a high rate of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions during their last year of life. Objectives: To determine the feasibility of a home palliative care intervention during 1 year versus usual care, and the possible impact of this intervention on emergency, hospital and ICU admissions, survival, mood, and health-related quality of life (HRQL). Methods: Prospective controlled study of patients with severe COPD (GOLD stage III or IV) and long-term oxygen therapy and/or home noninvasive ventilation and/or one or more hospital admissions in the previous year for acute exacerbation, randomized to usual care versus usual care with add-on monthly intervention by palliative care specialists at home for 12 months. Results: Of 315 patients screened, 49 (15.5%) were randomized (26 to early palliative care; 23 to the control group); aged (mean ± SD) 71 ± 8 years; FEV1 was 37 ± 14% predicted; 88% with a COPD assessment test score > 10; 69% on long-term oxygen therapy or home noninvasive ventilation. The patients accepted the intervention and completed the assessment scales. After 1 year, there was no difference between groups in symptoms, HRQL and mood, and there was a nonsignificant trend for higher admission rates to hospital and emergency wards in the intervention group. Conclusion: Although this pilot study was underpowered to formally exclude a benefit from palliative care in severe COPD, it raises several questions as to patient selection, reluctance to palliative care in this group, and modalities of future trials.