Background Managing the increasing burden of chronic diseases is a major public health problem. Are early diagnosis and management a key point for their optimal care and outcome?
Objectives Assessing early diagnosis and management of chronic diseases was the aim of a study carried out by the High Council for Public Health (HCSP), independent national body gathering experts nominated by the Minister of Health, to provide health authorities with expertise on development of national public health goals, assess their achievement and contribute to their monitoring
Methods A multidisciplinary working party run within the HCSP a review of scientific data supporting early intervention benefits, as well as frequency, impact and mechanisms of delayed management on individuals and society, in order to produce national guidelines. A huge amount of data were analyzed:argued contributions from national Professional organizations and Patient associations, literature analysis, audition of national agencies representatives.
Results Early stages of chronic diseases are less studied than later ones.Nevertheless, there is a strong evidence that delayed diagnosis and management are frequent and often adversely affect patients and society. The frequency, length and burden of delayed care were analyzed, varying with each disease, availability of efficient treatments and guidelines, socio-economic context. Optimal time for adequate management from symptom onset was reviewed, as well as medico-economic studies
Rheumatologic disorders appeared as models, notably Rheumatoid Arthritis (well-established window of opportunity, international guidelines for early diagnosis and management, including T2T and patient active implication). Evidence for early treatment benefit was also found for spondyloarthritis, osteoporosis, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, renal insufficiency, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders, ... Ethical considerations may arise; in Alzheimer's disease, a diagnosis source of marked anxiety, there is no effective pharmacological treatment- but non pharmacological treatments are quite helpful for patients and family and therefore recommended by health authorities.
Obviously, the benefit of early intervention must be strongly assessed. When this benefit is proven, too many patients are facing delays, often long, with adverse consequences and increased burden for society. The mechanisms of such delayed management are multiple and often intricate; we analyzed the barriers to optimal care linked with professionals, patients, family, health system and society, in order to identify the ways to optimize the outcomes and therefore improve the global health status of the population.
Finally the HCSP established a set of guidelines, in 3 axis
disseminate widely the available knowledge among professionals, patients, the general public, taking into account the social poor perception of chronic diseases
implement effectively change in practice toward early treatment, when appropriate:timely coordination between professionals and patient, fair diagnosis announcement, early patient implication, fight against social health inequalities
develop research on early stages of chronic diseases, diagnosis, management and outcomes.
Conclusions From a national public health perspective, early diagnosis and management, in the chronic diseases where their benefit is proven, should be better known and effectively implemented.
Disclosure of Interest None declared