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Palliative care needs among outpatient adults with cystic fibrosis: Baseline data from the Improving Life with CF trial

DiFiglia S, Georgiopoulos AM, Portenoy R, Seng E, Berdella M, Friedman D, Kier C, Linnemann RW, Middour-Oxler B, Walker P, Wang J, Yonker LM, Buehler B, Chaudhary N, Esposito C, Frantzen T, Henthorne K, Plachta A, Pollinger S, Stables-Carney T, Trentacoste J, Dhingra L.

Nov 10, 2023



Little is known about the burden of illness experienced by people with cystic fibrosis (pwCF) since the advent of CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator therapies. Studies that characterize the nature of illness burden are needed to inform the development and implementation of palliative care programs that can serve this population and address quality of life concerns.


Adults with CF treated at five U.S. CF centers were surveyed to obtain baseline data for the Improving Life with CF primary palliative care implementation trial. Consenting patients completed the Integrated Palliative Care Outcome Scale (IPOS), a multidimensional measure of unmet needs for palliative care. Sociodemographic and clinical information was also obtained. The associations among these variables were examined through bivariate and multivariable analyses.


Among 256 adults, the most distressing symptoms included not feeling “at peace”, communication difficulties with family/friends, anxiety over illness or its treatment, and a lack of energy. In the multivariable analyses, CFTR modulator use was associated with lower IPOS total and physical symptoms scores; female sex and increased hospitalizations were associated with higher scores. Increased age and history of distal intestinal obstructive syndrome were associated with higher IPOS physical symptoms scores.


These findings illuminate the nature of illness burden for pwCF in the era of CFTR modulator therapies. Although illness burden is positively affected by modulator therapy, there is a continuing need for palliative care to address physical, emotional, and spiritual distress, and the communication and practical needs experienced by adults with CF.

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