New research to tackle treatment for lung disease

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29 July 2014

Research into improving treatment for patients with one of the UK’s most common respiratory diseases has received a £810,000 funding boost.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of diseases which cause breathing difficulties due to long-term damage to the lungs.  Often linked to smoking, it is responsible for 10 per cent of all hospital admissions in the UK, with a high proportion of patients being readmitted to hospital after they are discharged. 

A team of researchers, led by Dr Sarah Purdy from the University of Bristol, will examine how to improve hospital care and treatment in the future thanks to a grant from the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme.

There is a series of standard steps for treating COPD  that all patients with the condition should receive when they are admitted or discharged from hospital, known as a ‘care bundle’.  This covers things such as advice on how to stop smoking, provision of written information about COPD and advice on inhaler usage.

The new study will evaluate whether providing patients with COPD who experience a rapid deterioration of their symptoms with a care bundle helps to improve their hospital care and reduces their chance of readmission to hospital.

Over the next three years, the research team will work in partnership with the British Thoracic Society, which recently developed new care bundles for COPD patients.

They will compare the outcomes for patients who receive admission and discharge care bundles at a number of hospitals across the country with the outcomes of patients at hospitals which do not use the care bundles approach.  

The findings will shape future health services to improve delivery of care for patients with COPD nationwide.

Dr Sarah Purdy, from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, said: “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to evaluate this important initiative to improve care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s a disease which affects a large number of people and we’re hopeful that our research can have a significant impact on patients’ lives in the future.”

Dr Bernard Higgins, Chairman of the British Thoracic Society’s Executive Committee, said:  “The British Thoracic Society is delighted to support this important research project, building on our earlier work on care bundles for COPD. There is wide variation in measures of COPD care across the country, and we are confident that we can demonstrate an improvement in standards via the use of bundles, bringing every hospital up to the high standards that our patients with COPD deserve.” 

Dr James Calvert, a Consultant Respiratory Physician at North Bristol NHS Trust, will also be part of the research team. He said: “I am delighted that NIHR has supported this grant. Care bundles are designed to ensure that every patient receives the best care, in a timely manner, every time. They work by bringing together clinical teams to ensure that everyone is focussed on delivering the key elements of care that will provide greatest benefit. With NIHR’s support we will be able to quantify and define the benefits of a ‘bundles’ approach for the NHS and to gain experience on how other organisations can organise care in a similar way.”

The NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is hosting the research as part of its work to improve healthcare in the local area and ensure better management of long-term conditions.

Dr Peter Brindle, Research and Development Programme Director, said: “COPD is such an important condition in terms of the numbers of people it affects, the resources it requires to manage it, and the disability it causes individuals.  This study will ensure that services for patients are devised using the very best research evidence of what works and what does not.”

Further information

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme was established to fund a broad range of research. It builds on the strengths and contributions of two NIHR research programmes: the Health Services Research (HSR) programme and the Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme, which merged in January 2012. The programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS. The HS&DR Programme is funded by the NIHR with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website.

This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

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