The Role of Palliative Care in COPD

Anand S. Iyer, Donald R. Sullivan, Kathleen O. Lindell, Lynn F. Reinke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and is a serious respiratory illness characterized by years of progressively debilitating breathlessness, high prevalence of associated depression and anxiety, frequent hospitalizations, and diminished well-being. Despite the potential to confer significant quality-of-life benefits for patients and their care partners and to improve end-of-life (EOL) care, specialist palliative care is rarely implemented in COPD, and when initiated, it often occurs only at the very EOL. Primary palliative care delivered by frontline clinicians is a feasible model, but is not integrated routinely in COPD. In this review, we discuss the following: (1) the role of specialist and primary palliative care for patients with COPD and the case for earlier integration into routine practice; (2) the domains of the National Consensus Project Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care applied to people living with COPD and their care partners; and (3) triggers for initiating palliative care and practical ways to implement palliative care using case-based examples. This review solidifies that palliative care is much more than hospice and EOL care and demonstrates that early palliative care is appropriate at any point during the COPD trajectory. We emphasize that palliative care should be integrated long before the EOL to provide comprehensive support for patients and their care partners and to prepare them better for the EOL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1250-1262
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • COPD
  • end-of-life care
  • hospice care
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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