Nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease (NTM-LD) is a rare but growing health concern, particularly affecting vulnerable patients with chronic lung conditions. Understanding the patients’ perspective on their disease and treatment expectations can help to identify healthcare gaps and improve overall patient care. Therefore, the main objective of the survey study was the evaluation of patient insights on the burden of the disease and healthcare gaps.
The study used an online survey as a pre-screener to facilitate recruitment followed by semi-structured qualitative interviews. The interviews were conducted by phone from April 2019 to February 2020 in German language. Only patients with a self-reported confirmed NTM-LD diagnosis, managed and insured in Germany were included in this study.
In total, 20 semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted. Most (85%) patients had at least one coexisting pulmonary condition with cystic fibrosis (CF, n = 9) being most common. Chronic cough, fatigue, and dyspnea were the most reported symptoms. Of all the symptoms reported, fatigue was perceived as the most burdensome and 85% of patients felt limited in their daily life. It took a median of 5 months for patients to receive an accurate diagnosis of NTM-LD and that time was doubled when excluding patients with CF (range 0-480 months). Ninety percent of interviewed patients (n = 18) received drug treatment for NTM-LD and most of them (n = 17) reported having experienced side effects from their treatment. Patients’ expressed a particular need for more comprehensive and reliable patient-friendly information on NTM-LD and a better awareness of physicians as well.
NTM-LD can considerably impair the lives of patients and their families and/or caregivers. A multidisciplinary approach and establishment of more widespread regional expert centers for NTM-LD management in Germany with well-structured referral and communication pathways accompanied by peer-to-peer support of patient advocacy groups are urgently needed.

© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Healthcare Ltd., part of Springer Nature.