Cough in lung cancer: A survey of current practice among Australian health professionals

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Journal Article
Collegian, 2019, 26 (6), pp. 629 - 633
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© 2019 Australian College of Nursing Ltd Background: Systematic reviews and guidelines are available to guide management of cough in lung cancer, but evidence for intervention efficacy is limited, and little research has yet described current practice. Aim: To canvass the experiences and perspectives of Australian health professionals with regard to the clinical importance and current management of cough in people with lung cancer. Methods: An open, online, cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2018. Health professionals of all disciplines were eligible, and recruitment was by direct approach to lung cancer multidisciplinary teams, professional listservs and conferences. Findings: Fifty-eight people completed the survey, of whom 26 (45%) were medical practitioners, 21 (36%) registered nurses, and 10 (17%) allied health practitioners. Nearly all (>90%) considered cough to be of clinical concern and welcomed efforts to improve management. In most services, ≤25% of patients with clinically concerning cough receive management. Opiates were perceived to be the most consistently effective pharmacological strategy, with ≥50% participants indicating minimal or variable effectiveness for all others. The few participants who had experience of non-pharmacological strategies perceived these to be only somewhat or variably effective. Discussion: Results from this study identified variability in the management of cough associated with lung cancer, and suggest this problem may be under-treated in most services. Unmet needs identified by this study are likely under-estimated due to the volunteer effect associated with open surveys. Conclusion: Further efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of managing cough and provide evidence-based strategies for this population.
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