Only Half of IPF Patients Talk to Doctors About Treatments

Joana Fernandes, PhD avatar

by Joana Fernandes, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
IPF treatment decisions

Patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) want more information from their doctors at diagnosis, according to the results of a new survey. Researchers said that only half of patients surveyed report discussing antifibrotic treatment decisions with their doctors when they’re diagnosed.

Results of the survey study, titled “Differences in Patient and Physician Viewpoints of the Management of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF),” were recently presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS 2017) International Conference in Washington, D.C.

Researchers designed a 20-minute online survey to assess the viewpoints of IPF patients and physicians who had consulted with more than five IPF patients within three months and prescribed a treatment.

The online survey was completed by 297 people from Europe and Canada between September and October 2016, of whom 43 were patients and 254 were physicians.

Among patient responders, only 56 percent reported receiving enough information at diagnosis. In this group, 58 percent were told that IPF is progressive, 44 percent discussed prognosis, and 49 percent were informed about treatments.

Most patients (93 percent) preferred to receive information about these topics directly from their doctor, but many patients searched for more information about IPF (86 percent), treatment (81 percent) and prognosis (76 percent).

Also, 86 percent of patients valued the ability of IPF treatments to slow disease progression over the associated side effects. Overall, the same percentage of patients felt confident in managing those side effects.

Among watch-and-wait physician (WWP) responders, they were less likely to discuss IPF with their patients compared to doctors with a more proactive approach, even when asked to do so by patients.

In terms of treatment, proactive physicians treated 62 percent of patients with mild IPF (as determined by the physician) with an antifibrotic drug less than four months after diagnosis, compared to watch-and-wait physicians, who provided the same treatment to only 38 percent of patients.

Also, WWP were more concerned about side effects, whereas proactive doctors mostly valued disease progression.

“This analysis identified a disparity between the information patients want at diagnosis and the information they receive from physicians,” researchers wrote.

“Furthermore, survey results suggest that [proactive physicians] may be more confident with the benefit-risk profile of antifibrotic treatment than WWP,” they added. “A belief in effective treatment options may ease the difficult conversation with patients regarding the seriousness of a confirmed IPF diagnosis, thereby enabling patients to make informed treatment decisions.”