In recent decades, the management of patients with acute and chronic conditions has become multidisciplinary. Essential elements of respiratory patient management are now carried out by healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, technologists/scientists, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, etc. Allied respiratory professionals (ARPs) are involved in the prevention, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and management of acute and chronic respiratory diseases.
Physiological diagnostics have become a cornerstone of the classification of many diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, interstitial lung diseases, obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, etc.), and spirometry (lung function testing) is now increasingly used by ARPs in many areas as a basic screening test to establish the appropriate therapeutic pathway. The measurement of lung function, arterial blood gases and oximetry, as well as the assessment of physical fitness or adherence to the agreed treatment, have also become important in determining the appropriate patient pathway. These tests, and many others, are now widely used to support the physician and the respiratory team.
ARPs are particularly involved in the rehabilitation of patients with chronic respiratory conditions, and are often the patient’s first point of contact. In recent years, there has been increasing evidence for ARP-led interventions, serving to strengthen their professional and academic role in disease management programmes. Consequently, the education and transfer of knowledge between different professional groups has become increasingly important in order to ensure that evidence-based research is translated into clinical practice.
This chapter will discuss the different professional positions within the ARP field, outlining the roles and responsibilities of each, and the areas requiring future development.