Canadian Lung Association Blog

COPD & End-of-Life Care

Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, respirologist from the University of Saskatchewan, presented a grand rounds education session on End-of-Life Care in Advanced COPD.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this presentation because throughout my degree in nursing, I worked as a care aide in palliative care.

COPD sufferers require open and honest communication about planning for the end of life and advanced care directives because of the likelihood that a flare-up may send them to the hospital.  End-of-Life care is a necessary topic to discuss with the family physician or nurse practitioner.  Many health care providers find this a difficult and sensitive topic to discuss and less experienced care providers, have an even harder time knowing how or when to initiate this conversation.

But Patients Do Want To Talk …

  •  about their diagnosis and disease process
  •  role of therapies in improving symptoms, quality of life and duration of life
  •  their prognosis for survival and for quality of life
  •  what dying might be like
  •  advance care planning for future medical care and flare-ups
  • and about what they don’t want

Dr. Marciniuk reported that The Public Health Agency of Canada is now recognizing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as the most common chronic disease causing hospital visits in adults.  With the ever growing group of COPD sufferers, health researchers are finding that health care providers and COPD patients need more education about end-of-life care.  Current research has also shown that COPD patients are not receiving the best care available for their disease.  These patients are suffering from poor quality of life, poor symptom control, high anxiety levels and depression.  The patient families are overwhelmed with having to care for their loved one and having a general lack of community support and outreach.

By educating COPD patients and their families as well as all of the many different health professionals about a COPD patient’s needs, we can ensure that we provide the best end of life experience as possible.


Lise Schultz – University of SK Nursing Student at the Lung Association of SK



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