Research at CPC-M - Improving quality of life – observational study with COPD patients in Bavaria

Research at CPC-M

Improving quality of life – observational study with COPD patients in Bavaria

How is the quality of life of COPD patients? 

For chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, breast cancer or COPD, the statutory health insurance companies have developed uniform, structured care programs – Disease Management Programs (DMP). They are designed to improve the quality of medical care, to avoid consequential damage and to maintain or improve patients' quality of life. But just what effect do these programs have on patients – and which measures have an effect and how?

The team led by Professor Dr. Reiner Leidl and Dr. Larissa Schwarzkopf at the IGM, the Institute for Health Economics and Healthcare Management, wants to learn more about this. In an observational study, it is investigating the DMP program for COPD patients in cooperation with AOK Bavaria: The scientists take a look at the interplay between medical care, the course of the disease and the development of the quality of life of those affected. The aim: to identify comprehensive starting points for quality-of-life-oriented care of COPD patients.

Dr. Larissa Schwarzkopf:

“We want to have a more target group-oriented patient management that is not based on clinical parameters alone, but rather defines therapeutic approaches on the quality of life of patients. The specific project goal is thus to identify starting points for such a quality of life-oriented patient management. On a broader level, we want to increase awareness of the patient-side quality of life and create a basis for systematically integrating quality of life surveys into the German health system. " 

(A detailed conversation with Dr. Larissa Schwarzkopf about the project can be found here.)

First step: Questionnaires for patients with COPD

The scientists have sent questionnaires to 50,000 persons insured in the AOK in Bavaria, who are participating in the DMP for COPD. The questionnaires inquired about  the patient‘s medical history and socio-demographic background. One year later, the same questionnaires are sent to the insured again to elucidate interim developments – which patient developed particularly well and which particularly poorly?

In a second phase, this primary data is linked to routinely collected data from the AOK's accounting system and the medical DMP documentation. By combining and analyzing the different data, the researchers hope to find answers to open questions like these:

What are the drivers for the quality of life of COPD patients in cross- and longitudinal sections?

What framework conditions in treatment are responsible for the fact that some patients develop well and others poorly – even though they have the same initial conditions?

What effect do smoke abstinence, rehabilitation measures or concomitant respiratory therapies have?

How do treatment costs develop depending on medical care and the course of the disease?

The data from the first two phases will be used to identify subgroups of patients with a particular need for very specific disease management strategies. How these needs can be integrated into routine care will be intensively discussed with medical and health insurance experts.

The conclusion of team leader Prof. Reiner Leidl: 

"Such a quality of life survey, which can affect the treatment of chronic diseases, does not yet exist in Germany. We want to play a pioneering role!"