Volunteers are needed to help in a clinical trial that could provide new insight into one of Glasgow's biggest health problems. A team of doctors and nurses from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) is looking for patients with lung disease to take part in a prestigious clinical trial that could help sufferers of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
COPD is a condition of the lungs (airways and lung substance) that is smoking related; it includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The illness is one of the most common causes of admission to hospital within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and within the Greater Glasgow part of the health board area, there are an estimated 13,000 people living with the disease.
Five hundred patients who suffer from COPD are needed to take part in the exercise, which experts hope will lead to new ways of coping with the disease. The GSuST trial (Glasgow Supported Self-management Randomised Controlled Trial) is the first trial of its kind in the UK. It is designed to find out whether patients can remain healthier for longer, by learning to recognise the changes in their COPD symptoms that indicate an exacerbation or "bad spell" (commonly called a chest infection) and treating them as soon as possible.
Dr Christine Bucknall is leading the team in charge of the £380,000 trial. She says the project has a very simple premise but could prove to be enormously valuable: "Training patients to recognise when they're getting ill and then to adjust their treatment has been shown to work very well for asthma patients, and we want to see if it's the same for COPD patients.
"But we can only succeed if our COPD patients can help. It doesn't require much commitment at all, it's completely painless and the health of everyone taking part will be kept under very close supervision. We're asking for 500 patients to come forward to help.
"The benefit for people taking part is that they may well learn how to control their illness better, and the benefits for future patients could be huge."
The requirements for taking part in the GSuST trial are very simple:
* You must not have any other serious medical problem which could also have an impact on your health during the study.
* You must be able to fill in a diary card about your COPD symptoms
* You must have been in hospital on account of your chest condition within the past six months
* You must suffer from COPD and live in Glasgow
In return, everyone taking part in the trial will be assessed to ensure they receive the most effective combination of medication and pulmonary rehabilitation. A randomly selected group of patients will also have regular visits and telephone contact with a nurse from the specialist GSuST team.
In Scotland, there are more cases of COPD per head of population than in England and Wales and most of the rest of Europe. COPD is the only cause of death that is increasing worldwide. Up to 633% of patients who are discharged from hospital are re-admitted within twelve months - a figure the trial team are hoping will reduce.
Dr Bucknall says: "In this trial we will try to show patients exactly what to look out for with regard to their COPD, and what to do if they do recognise their symptoms are beginning to deteriorate. As well as the physical benefits that keeping a closer eye on your symptoms can provide, being able to take some control of your illness - with help from our trial team - may well provide its own psychological benefits too.
"If you would be interested in taking part in the GSuST trial, please give us a call. You could be making a world of difference."
Notes to editors:
* For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.
* Patients who are interested in volunteering can contact the GSuST Team on 0141 201 3701.