New European initiative to integrate palliative care and respiratory medicine

New European initiative to integrate palliative care and respiratory medicine - article image

30 January, 2024

The European Respiratory Society (ERS) and Lungs Europe are part of the consortium for a new project, EU PAL-COPD, which aims to integrate palliative care and respiratory medicine across Europe. The project has been launched after it received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon Europe programme.

ERS is one of 13 organisations from seven European countries which form the consortium for EU PAL-COPD, a new project which aims to advance the integration of palliative care in the treatment routine of people with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in different healthcare systems in Europe.

Coordinated by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the project started earlier this month (January 2024) and was officially launched in Brussels this week (30–31 January). Its long-term vision to improve wellbeing for millions of COPD patients and their families. ERS will contribute to the dissemination and communication activities within the project.

Looking beyond the disease: patient-centred and family-centred care

EU PAL-COPD is dedicated to enhancing end-of-life care for those living with advanced COPD. Through the implementation of a highly innovative non-pharmacological service model called ICLEAR-EU in different healthcare systems in Europe, the goal is not only to improve medical care and physical well-being, but also prioritise a patient-centred approach, advance care planning and shared decision making.

Chronic lung diseases are a devastating reality for many people around the world and COPD is of particular concern:

  • COPD is responsible for 2.9 million deaths annually and is the third leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Palliative care has traditionally been associated with cancer care in Europe, but there is a growing recognition of its benefits for individuals with non-malignant diseases like COPD.
  • Palliative care seeks to improve physical, mental, social and existential well-being for patients and their families. Despite the benefits, the timely implementation of palliative care in non-cancer settings within the European Union has been limited.
  • Current COPD palliative and end-of-life care is not optimal. Limited access to palliative care services, the lack of information and involvement in decision-making for patients and inadequate training of healthcare providers compound the problem.
  • What sets the EU PAL-COPD project apart is the dedication to incorporating the patient’s perspective by including their input as of the start of the project, acting as a ‘beacon of hope’ for patients and families

In order to successfully implement this palliative care service model into respiratory medicine, EU PAL-COPD’s consortium will conduct a clinical trial in 18 hospitals across six European countries (Belgium, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, Portugal). This is the first large-scale international trial systematically integrating palliative care into respiratory care, and the focus of its design is to synergise respiratory teams with interdisciplinary palliative and primary care teams.

Through EU PAL-COPD, patients and families will be better emotionally supported and informed in a way that allows them to openly communicate about the illness and end-of-life needs.

The EU PAL-COPD project, co-led by Prof. Koen Pardon and Prof. Luc Deliens from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, unites a pan-European consortium of experts from several areas, including medical sciences, respiratory care, community nursing, primary care, palliative care, sociology, psychology, health services, economics, and communication, supported by renowned institutions such as European Respiratory Society, European Association for Palliative Care, Lungs Europe, amongst others.

Learn more about EU PAL-COPD

View all ongoing EU projects involving ERS and the European Lung Foundation (ELF)

EU PAL-COPD is funded by the European Union (grant no. 101136621) and supported by Innovate UK and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HADEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

EU Affairs