BACKGROUND: Self-management interventions in COPD, including action plans, have the potential to increase quality of life and to reduce respiratory-related hospitalisations. However, knowledge is still sparse of the effectiveness of a personally tailored action plan introduced at or right after discharge from hospital.
AIM: This pilot study aimed to test whether a personalised, stepwise action plan supported with a short instruction provided at or postdischarge after an acute exacerbation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease admission as an addition to usual care reduces readmissions and symptom burden, including anxiety and depression levels at 3-month follow-up.
METHODS: The study was carried out in a randomised controlled design with follow-up after 3 months. In all, 75 participants were randomly assigned to either an intervention group that received an action plan, including the COPD Assessment Test (CAT), or to a control group that received usual care. The incidence of COPD-related readmissions was measured as the primary outcome.
RESULTS: Compared to the control group, the action plan group significantly reduced the incidence of readmissions. The action plan group showed a trend towards a significant decrease in HADS-depression, but none in HADS-anxiety. Significant improvements in CAT scores were observed for the participants in the intervention group. Only inferior minor differences were found in use of inhalation therapy.
CONCLUSIONS: A personally tailored action plan introduced at or postdischarge combined with follow-up support is an effective self-management tool to support recovery and to reduce unnecessary readmissions. In future follow-up care, the healthcare professional must initiate the action plan at discharge and immediately after having the opportunity to follow the patient at home. This might require healthcare professionals working across healthcare sectors, who support patients until they have the needed confidence and competence in using the plan.