Christian Osadnik

Interview with Dr. Christian Osadnik

Dr. Christian Osadnik is a physiotherapist and member of the European Respiratory Society (ERS). He is part of an ERS Task Force about frailty in people with lung conditions – a research project which has two patient representatives. In this interview we asked him about his background and the role of patients in the project.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background

I am a physiotherapist based at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. I have a strong interest in improving the health and well-being of people affected by chronic lung disease, particularly through the promotion of movement and exercise. My work allows me to conduct research in local hospitals as well as teach students the skills they need to develop to become healthcare professionals in the future – which I find very rewarding. I have always maintained a strong ‘connection’ with Europe via my family background in Poland and Germany, as well as having lived and worked as a physiotherapist in the UK (2006-07) and Belgium (2014-15; supported by the European Respiratory Society and European Lung Foundation).

What is the frailty Task Force?

We are a group of 14 multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and two patient representatives spanning 10 countries across Europe, America and Australia. We came together due to our interest in the area of frailty for people living with chronic lung conditions.

Frailty is recognised clinically as a state of vulnerability where people become more affected than expected following small declines in their health. Having frailty may also make it harder to recover or ‘bounce back’ afterwards. People with frailty may have weaker muscles, or walk at a slower speed, or experience greater difficulties completing day-to-day tasks than people without frailty. Frailty is more common in people with multiple health problems and those of older age.

Our Task Force developed a plan for the first ever position statement on frailty in chronic lung conditions. We were successful in securing funding and support from the European Respiratory Society and have already begun work to address what we feel are important knowledge gaps within existing lung health clinical practice.

Why is frailty such an important topic in relation to lung disease?

Lung healthcare has advanced considerably over time and it is essential to continually look for opportunities to further advance it. It is widely accepted that the ‘one size fits all’ healthcare system will result in worse outcomes for certain groups of patients, no matter what condition they have. People who have frailty often experience poorer health outcomes such as weakness, slower recovery from illness and more hospital admissions. These issues are also common in people with chronic lung disease, yet we do not routinely look for and manage frailty. New research suggests that if we don’t look for frailty in people with chronic lung disease, we are likely missing opportunities to offer more personalized treatments for this important group of people. Our work hopes to highlight these issues and help guide future improvements to lung healthcare.

What is the role of patients and carers in this Task Force and how can they get involved?

We allocated two roles within our Task Force for people affected by frailty and chronic lung disease to ensure the perspectives of patients and carers/families are included throughout our work.

One of the main ways to become involved in the project is to participate in an online survey that we will be distributing soon via the European Lung Foundation. This very short survey simply asks you to tell us about the issues YOU feel are important to for us to address.

Patients are very central to this project, can you please explain why you feel their views are so important?

It is always fascinating to discuss healthcare issues among a team of healthcare professionals and then compare this to the issues raised by the individuals affected by the condition. They usually differ, sometimes a lot. We really value the unique perspectives and lived experiences of patients and their carers/families as they are ultimately the desired users (or ‘consumers’) of the information we hope to develop. To ensure our work is relevant and can be used in healthcare solutions for people living with chronic lung disease, work like ours must have the patient/public voice embedded from the start.

How will this Task Force improve the lives of patients?

A very good question! At the moment, the amount of evidence specifically addressing issues of frailty in people with chronic lung disease is quite small. A key aim of our work is to highlight what we know, but also what we DON’T know yet. By mapping this out clearly, we hope to highlight areas of healthcare that should or should not be put in place, those that may be uncertain, and those that may need to be prioritised for future research. The scope of our work is broad, but we aim to provide a solid foundation upon which we can make future healthcare decisions. In our opinion, this is the essential first step to embedding evidence-based assessment and management strategies into lung health guidelines, thereby improving future health outcomes for people affected by chronic lung disease.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Only that this project will take some time before it is finalised – expected by the end of 2022. All members of the Task Force are extremely grateful for the support of the European Respiratory Society, European Lung Foundation and all consumers who contribute to this important work.