Palliative telehealth is an effective tool for improving patients’ quality of life, new research has found.
Phone-based telehealth led to consistent improvements in patients’ depression, anxiety and other symptoms for people with serious illness, according to a study by University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus researchers, published in JAMA. The study also found that these improvements continued for at least several months after those services ceased.
“While we do a great job caring for these patients’ illnesses, we can do more for quality of life. Many have persistent symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, shortness of breath,and sleep problems that can make living with these illnesses very difficult and have been associated with earlier death” Dr. David Bekelman, professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.
This randomized clinical trial included 306 participants at high risk of hospitalization or death who reported poor quality of life.
During the study, investigators examined the impact of a palliative care telehealth program, dubbed ADAPT, on veterans suffering from a range of illnesses, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure (HF) and interstitial lung disease (ILD).
ADAPT addresses health concerns that are not widely addressed in routine medical appointments, according to the study authors. Through the program, nurses and social workers reach out to patients with structured questions and assistance and discuss potential responses from interdisciplinary clinical teams. Follow up calls also occur to assess progress.
“There are people who endure persistent symptoms and poor quality of life despite great treatments. We need to fill in the gaps and provide more for these patients,” Bekelman said.