Resource Use and Health Care Costs of COPD Patients at the End of Life: A Systematic Review

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CONTEXT: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in their final months of life potentially place a high burden upon health care systems. Concrete knowledge about resources used and costs incurred by those patients at the end of life is crucial for policymakers.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this systematic review was to describe the resources used and costs incurred by patients with COPD at the end of life.

METHODS: We performed a comprehensive literature search in Medline, Web of Science and Econlit. We screened 886 abstracts, and subsequently reviewed 80 full-text manuscripts. Inclusion criteria were at least one type of resource use and/or cost outcome reported in adults diagnosed with COPD during an end-of-life period. Subsequently, we performed quality appraisal consistent with the ISPOR checklist for retrospective database studies and accomplished comprehensive data extraction.

RESULTS: Ten manuscripts fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Three, five and two studies described European, North American and Asian health care settings, respectively. All studies had a retrospective design and were published between 2006 and 2015. We observed a very variable resource use, an increased number of hospitalizations, intensive care unit stays, primary care consultations and medication prescriptions, as well as a lack of utilization of formal palliative care services in end-of-life COPD patients. Specific cost items were not well described.

CONCLUSION: The high use of health care resources in COPD patients in the final months of life suggests a focus on prolonging life and a tendency towards aggressive care. Limiting potentially inappropriate care and improving the quality of end-of-life care in advanced COPD are, therefore, important public health challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-599
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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