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This content, which is intended for UK healthcare professionals only, has been developed and funded by Boehringer Ingelheim. Dr Steve Holmes, GP, received payment for involvement in the development and accuracy review of this content. Mr Ron Flewett also received payment for involvement in the development of this content as a trustee and spokesperson of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive, irreversible and life-limiting respiratory condition.1,2 Like many long-term conditions, early referral and diagnosis is key to giving patients the opportunity to receive appropriate specialist care and support as soon as possible.3

This educational feature has been developed to help you identify, refer and support patients with IPF. You can expect to learn more about the pathology and prevalence of IPF, its symptoms, why referral and early accurate diagnosis is so important and the role of GPs in the ongoing care of patients following a diagnosis. You will also get an insight into the impact IPF can have on patients.

IPF diagnosis should only be made after careful specialist assessment and investigation with input from a specialist multidisciplinary team.4 As GPs are often the first contact point for patients experiencing symptoms, you play an important role in recognising the potential signs and symptoms of people who could have IPF and seeking early specialist help if the diagnosis is suspected.

Once a patient is diagnosed with IPF, you may be involved in their ongoing care. This feature includes information on the practical and emotional support a patient with IPF may need, with commentary from Dr Steve Holmes, GP, and Ron Flewett, trustee and spokesperson of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust, who is living with IPF.

Here, Dr Holmes summarises the key characteristics of IPF, including the most common signs and symptoms, as well as tests that can be undertaken in primary care, and what happens once a patient is under specialist care.

Dr Holmes, of The Park Medical Practice in Somerset, has a special interest in IPF and is a medical advisor to the British Lung Foundation.


December 2019


1Costabel U. The changing treatment landscape in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Eur Respir Rev 2015;24(135):65-68

2Senanayake S et al. Patients’ experiences of coping with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and their recommendations for its clinical management. PLoS ONE 2018;13(5): e0197660

3du Bois R M. An earlier and more confident diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Eur Respir Rev 2012;21(124):141-146

4National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in adults:
diagnosis and management. CG163. Available at: Last accessed November 2019