Making an informed decision

How do people with COPD know what good care looks like? How do they know what care they should be offered? How do they understand the pros and cons of being offered an intervention? Patients should be aware of all options for their disease management, the potential benefits and risks of these choices, and their personal values should be considered in these decisions. Only then can the patient make an informed decision.

Flu vaccination is a great example. There are lots of misconceptions around this intervention which needs addressing; if the patient does not have all the evidence based advice, they cannot make an informed decision. Here are a selection of questions that patients might ask:

A flu jab cannot cause flu illness. The vaccine is made either with influenza viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ or with a flu virus protein. There’s a lot of evidence to show that people who get an inactive form of the virus don’t get flu from the vaccine! If you get a flu-like reaction, it shows your immune system is reacting well. In randomised studies, where some people get inactivated flu vaccinations and others get saline injections, there were no differences in symptoms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

Some people report having mild reactions to flu vaccination. The most common symptom is soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Other reactions can include a low grade fever and aches. The most common side effects people have to flu jab are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu.

Serious allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare. They usually occur within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination, and are normally associated with a corresponding egg yolk allergy.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation and smoking cessation are other examples of high value interventions that patients are missing out on. If a patient knew how effective these interventions were compared with the inhaled therapies they are taking, they might make different decisions about their healthcare.

Mark as Understood

© Institute of Clinical Science and Technology (ICST) 2020