Elderly patients with impaired vision, cognitive decline or motor/sensory disturbances of their fingers suffering from chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) encounter difficulties in handling inhaler devices used as the cornerstones of treatment of pulmonary obstruction. Many elderly patients make severe mistakes which impede adequate drug delivery to the bronchioles. This multimodal training program was designed to reduce the number of handling mistakes of inhaler devices.
From October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, a prospective intervention study was conducted in 38 in-patients > 65 years (median age 79 years) with previously diagnosed COPD. The effect of an 8-day intervention comprising daily counselling and video demonstration according to the recommendations of the German Airway League on the frequency of mistakes during handling of inhaler devices, the forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), the forced vital capacity (FVC) and the perception of symptoms (COPD Assessment Test, CAT) were studied. Measurements on days 1 and 8 were compared by Wilcoxon signed rank test.
The number of handling mistakes per patient decreased as a consequence of the intervention from 3.0 (0-7) to 0.5 (0-6) [median (minimum-maximum; p < 0.0001)]. The CAT Score decreased from 19.5 (14/24) to 14.5 (10.75/21) [median (25./75. percentile; p < 0.0001) indicating a substantial reduction of clinical symptoms. Conversely, FEV1 and FVC only slightly increased (difference statistically not significant). At study entry, the number of handling mistakes was inversely correlated with the Mini Mental Status Test (MMST) score (p = 0.01). The reduction of the number of handling mistakes during the intervention was not correlated with the MMST.
In COPD, intensive training for 8 days improved the handling of inhalers and reduced clinical symptoms in geriatric patients. Patients with cognitive abnormalities also benefitted from this intervention.
German Clinical Trials Registry DRKS00023196 , date of registration September 29, 2020 (retrospectively registered).