To better understand how the pandemic has affected patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), with or without Covid-19, admitted to hospital and using hospital services.
COPD is a common chronic lung disease affecting mainly middle-aged and older patients. COPD patients can be vulnerable to viral infections, leading to flare-up of symptoms such as cough and breathlessness, and viral lung infections are the most common cause of hospital admission in this patient group.
In March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic and since then millions of people have been affected worldwide.
There has been significant concern in the COPD patient and healthcare community that Covid-19 would have devastating effects for COPD patients.
Many COPD patients report ‘shielding’ throughout the pandemic and there is anecdotal evidence that people missed hospital appointments and avoided coming to hospital, even when they were very unwell. However, there is little information to assess the impact of Covid-19 on COPD hospital admissions and hospital care.
This project will look at routinely collected health data before and during the Covid-19 pandemic to determine:
- Whether there was a month by month reduction in COPD admissions comparing the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and the same time period in 2019.
- Whether there are differences in the characteristics of patients with COPD admitted to hospital during the pandemic compared to 2019 (such as their age, general medical health and in terms of social factors such as poverty).
- Whether there are differences in the severity of their lung disease, both before coming to hospital and when admitted to hospital. For example, how long people were in hospital for, whether they needed oxygen or breathing support using pressure masks or via a breathing tube and ventilators, and whether they survived.
- Whether hospitalised patients with COPD and Covid-19 have more severe lung disease than COPD patients hospitalised for other reasons.
- Whether routine COPD outpatient appointment attendance in 2020 (face to face or by phone/video conference) was lower compared to 2019.
These analyses will begin to understand the impact of Covid-19 on this long-term condition, and inform whether COPD care pathways need to change whilst the pandemic continues.
The researchers have worked with Breathe Easy patient support groups in Solihull and Coventry to identify issues important to patients. They will continue to discuss the results, co-creating a series of information sheets for patients to disseminate the findings.
This project was supported unanimously by the PIONEER Data Trust Committee.
Dr Kay Por Yip, Birmingham Health Partners (University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham)