Medical treatment for chronic lung conditions often involves diagnosis, prescription and getting the patient on his or her way. When a medical practitioner asks how a patient feels, it’s usually limited to the way they feel physically. Emotional needs of patients are often overlooked in favor of the more obvious symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
Melissa Rubio’s research on the emotional symptoms of COPD
Melissa Rubio, Ph.D., APRN, is Lung Health Institute’s Principal Investigator for Research and a nurse practitioner. Dr. Rubio has long been interested in the topic of how patients are emotionally affected by their condition. Recently she had an article published on Daily Nurse on the topic of the hidden symptoms of COPD.
Daily Nurse is a website that features current issues and news for an audience of more than 200,000 nurses. It caters to the busy lifestyle of nurses by selecting quality articles to communicate important updates and research. Dr. Rubio’s article focused on how medical staff could better support patients with a COPD diagnosis.
Findings to improve patient treatment
Dr. Rubio’s research led her to understand that patients need more assistance than they are usually given when they are diagnosed with COPD. It can be a confusing time for a patient to try to learn about symptoms while coping with difficulty breathing, made worse by commonly being rushed at the doctor’s office.
Dr. Rubio’s findings provide some helpful recommendations to medical staff:
- Help patients understand what is happening by teaching them about their condition. Many chronic lung condition patients feel guilty and blame themselves. Educating patients about the possible causes, stage and physical nature of COPD can help them feel more in control.
- Ask the patient questions. Because the patient may be overwhelmed, they might not express what they’re feeling. Asking about how the patient is feeling emotionally may help them voice concerns they have. If the patient needs oxygen, as many do, they may feel self-conscious, anxious or depressed. Some patients have trouble feeling positive about their future.
- Let them know they’re not alone. There are millions of people around the world living with COPD. Offering support resources to patients is one part of an approach to treating the patient, not just the symptoms. Recommending a support group of other patients with COPD is a great start, along with counseling and other resources.
You can read Dr. Rubio’s full article on Daily Nurse.