Education, Teaching, and Quality Improvement |

Safety of Air Travel: Perceptions and Awareness in Patients With Cardiopulmonary Disease FREE TO VIEW

Mary Jarad; Mary Lynn Zaremba, MSN; Kristin Elliott, MSN; Alicia Huisman; Sridhar Reddy, MPH
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St. Clair Pulmonary and Critical Care, Port Huron, MI

Chest. 2014;146(4_MeetingAbstracts):507A. doi:10.1378/chest.1989343
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SESSION TITLE: Education and Teaching in Pulmonary Posters

SESSION TYPE: Original Investigation Poster

PRESENTED ON: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 01:30 PM - 02:30 PM

PURPOSE: An increasing number of patients with heart and lung disease travel by air. This may not be entirely safe. We sought to access awareness and patients perceptions of air travel safety. This information may help set goals for public health education.

METHODS: An anonymous questionnaire was given to patients with a known history of heart and/or lung disease (n=42). The questionnaire addressed perceptions of safety and knowledge of their air cabin environment as it pertains to health risks.

RESULTS: Patients thought that air travel was relatively safe, on a scale of 0-10 with ten being the safest; the patients' composite score was 6.78. Only 19 percent of patients with cardiopulmonary disease were aware that the aircraft is pressurized to a cabin altitude of 5,000-8,000 feet and less than 12 percent of the patients were aware that the oxygen levels were equivalent to 15 percent. In fact one-third of the patients thought that the oxygen level was similar to oxygen at sea level. Only 7 percent of the patients were made aware of any warnings about health risks with air travel. Only 31 percent of patients were aware that change in cabin pressure was not a continuous smooth change throughout the flight but was during the first and last 20 minutes. 50 percent of patients with cardiopulmonary disease had symptoms when they traveled by air of which 81 percent of them had dyspnea and 19 percent had chest discomfort. Less than 5 percent of the patients were aware of the availability of pre-flight medical testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cardiopulmonary disease have a poor understanding of air travel environment and are clearly unaware of the health risks of air travel. Their perception that air travel is relatively safe and lack of adequate warnings is a dangerous mix that may result in potential harm.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Air travel has become increasingly common with an estimated 300 billion passenger kilometers per month. Our study points toward potential harm with at least 50 percent of passengers being symptomatic during air travel. To avoid adverse events education and awareness campaigns by public health agencies and airlines is needed. These campaigns may need to take the form of direct public service announcements coupled with education of health care personnel and patients.

DISCLOSURE: The following authors have nothing to disclose: Mary Jarad, Mary Lynn Zaremba, Kristin Elliott, Alicia Huisman, Sridhar Reddy

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