In a study entitled “Protocol for a mixed-methods study of supplemental oxygen in pulmonary fibrosis” published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine, the authors present the design of a new study that will seek to better understand the impact of oxygen supplementation on patients with pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic lung disease characterized by excessive accumulation of fibrous connective tissue in lung tissues, leading to severe symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, and general weakness.
Patients with pulmonary fibrosis often see the disease progress and present with low blood oxygen levels not only while exercising but also during sleeping or at rest. These patients are prescribed oxygen supplementation in order to maintain normal oxygen levels. However, patients have reported that oxygen supplementation is an undesired necessity due to the burden of carrying the equipment and the exposure and constant reminder of the disease, associated with all of the logistics involved in equipment transportation.
Interestingly, studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of oxygen supplementation to lung diseases, which include an increase in patient survival, are in fact scarce. In the case of pulmonary fibrosis, when it comes to patient-based evidence linking oxygen to improving symptoms and quality of life, the available data is generally unreported.
In this new study, the authors — members of Participation Program for Pulmonary Fibrosis – report that their mixed-methods study will be used to analyze how oxygen affects patients with pulmonary fibrosis. The study will include interviews of patients with pulmonary fibrosis, informal caregivers of pulmonary fibrosis patients and practitioners who usually prescribe oxygen supplementation. As a comparative control group, the study will also interview patients with pulmonary fibrosis that do not use oxygen supplementation throughout the day. For both groups of patients, with or without oxygen supplement, data will be collected at baseline, immediately before the day administration of oxygen, and finally between 9 to 12 months later. The study’s primary outcome to be evaluated is alterations in difficulty of breathing (dyspnea) registered before and after oxygen supplementation. Additionally, other outcomes will include patient-reported outcomes for cough, fatigue, daily activity, and quality of life.
The authors highlight that the study results will be useful in designing strategies to improve and understand oxygen supplementation outcomes to patients with pulmonary fibrosis.