Study: Do Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Patients Adhere to Vest Therapy?

Maintaining lung function is a major goal of cystic fibrosis (CF) treatment. In order to accomplish this goal, doctors will use airway clearance techniques, such as vest therapy. The problem arises with pediatric patients, as they often do not want to do a lengthy or inconvenient treatment. Medical professionals can’t even tell to what level patients do not adhere, as this data is largely patient reported. To fix this problem, a study published in Respiratory Care has utilized vests with Bluetooth to properly and accurately report patient adherence.

About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that is characterized by progressive damage to the respiratory and digestive systems. Those with cystic fibrosis do not have the slippery mucus that is normally found in the lungs, instead they have thick and sticky mucus which builds up in their system. This buildup causes clogs in the airways, which then traps bacteria and causes breathing problems, infections, lung damage, and respiratory failure. It can also block digestive enzymes, which makes it difficult to absorb nutrients. Cystic fibrosis is a recessive disorder, meaning that the mutated gene must be passed down by both parents. The gene responsible for this condition affects the protein that regulates salt movement. The mutation in the gene varies in severity as well.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis affect the respiratory and digestive systems. They include persistent coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty exercising, frequent lung infections, stuffy noses, trouble with gaining weight, constipation, male infertility, salty-tasting skin, and exercise intolerance.

About the Study

Vest therapy, which is high-frequency chest wall oscillation, is integral for maintaining lung function in CF patients. Because many pediatric patients do not follow their treatment plans perfectly, and data is not properly reported, a team of researchers led by Christine M. Benoit has employed Bluetooth-enabled vests in order to collect data.

For twelve months, the researchers collected data from 73 patients’ vests, including numbers on overall adherence, daily treatment, and more. After the year passed, their results included:

  • Average adherence to vest therapy is higher in the age groups zero to six (77.8%) and seven to twelve (89.5%) than it is in the 13-19 group (44.0%).
  • As age increased, adherence decreased.
  • If more therapy components are included in one adherence metric, all age groups decline in mean adherence rates.

Overall, this study found that it becomes increasingly difficult to get children to adhere to vest therapy as they age. Adherence rates go down as the therapy becomes more complicated as well. In the end, this research allows medical professionals to better understand how pediatric patients follow their treatment plans. This will help them develop better plans that have a focus on treatment adherence.

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