Temporal trends of healthcare use in the period before a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis are poorly understood. We investigated trends in respiratory symptoms and LR HRU in the 10 years prior to diagnosis.
We analysed a primary care clinical cohort database (UK OPCRD) and assessed patients aged ≥40 years who had an electronically coded diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis between 2005 and 2015 and a minimum 2 years of continuous medical records prior to diagnosis. Exclusion criteria consisted of electronic codes for recognized causes of pulmonary fibrosis such as CTD, sarcoidosis or EAA.
Data for 2223 patients were assessed. Over the 10 years prior to diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, there was a progressive increase in HRU across multiple LR‐related domains. Five years before diagnosis, 18% of patients had multiple healthcare contacts for LR complaints; this increased to 79% in the year before diagnosis, with 38% of patients having five or more healthcare contacts.
There are opportunities to diagnose pulmonary fibrosis at an earlier stage; research into case‐finding algorithms and strategies to educate primary care physicians is required.
- clinical epidemiology
- clinical respiratory medicine
- pulmonary fibrosis
- respiratory function tests