Long Alliantie Nederland plans to implement the tool nationwide

Assessment of Burden of COPD (ABC) tool improves quality of life

The Assessment of Burden of COPD (ABC) tool, co-developed by researchers at Maastricht UMC+, improves the interaction between patients and healthcare providers in addition to improving quality of life for patients with COPD. These results were recently published in the leading scientific journal British Medical Journal Open. Long Alliantie Nederland (LAN) now plans to implement the tool nationwide.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A healthier lifestyle (e.g. smoking cessation and increased physical activity) can help to reduce symptoms. The ABC tool (Ziektelastmeter COPD) is particularly useful for making lifestyle changes. The tool helps patients and healthcare providers determine which type of treatment is needed and where efforts should be concentrated. It works by having patients complete a questionnaire at regular intervals.

The tool translates the answers into the burden of COPD perceived by patients and into objective parameters, such as lung function, fatigue and exacerbations (sudden worsening of symptoms). The results were visualised with coloured balloons that make it immediately clear which areas are going well and which areas still need work. The objective is to keep patients closely involved in their individual treatment plans.

Improved quality of life
And it's working. The group of patients treated with the ABC tool scored significantly higher after eighteen months. They experienced an improved disease-specific quality of life and were more satisfied about the care they received than the patients in the control group, who did not use the ABC tool. Given the scientifically proven results, Long Alliantie Nederland recently decided to promote the use of this tool following its general assembly. The ABC tool will be included in the COPD care standard (COPD Zorgstandaard) and more attention will be paid to informing and educating both patients and healthcare providers. A symposium will be held on 9 November in Maastricht about the ABC tool, prior to Annerika Slok's PhD conferral ceremony. For more information about the symposium, visit http://bit.ly/2aIyG4N.

COPD on the rise
COPD is a chronic lung disease characterised by an obstruction of the airway, which makes breathing difficult. It is one of the most common diseases worldwide and is currently on the rise. Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD. There are, however, various medications (bronchodilators and anti-inflammatories) that can ease symptoms. These medications alleviate tightness and suppress the urge to cough. Lifestyle changes are even more effective than medications at making a marked improvement in symptoms. 

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