[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spirometry is the 'gold standard' for diagnosing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) but is rarely used in general practice.
To compare doctor diagnoses with patient reports/spirometry and to determine doctors' perceptions of spirometry.
Patients prescribed inhaled medication were recruited from 31 practices. Doctor diagnoses were extracted from practice records. Patients completed a questionnaire and spirometry before and after bronchodilator. In-depth interviews were conducted with a sample of doctors.
Doctor diagnoses were available for 278 patients: asthma 192 (69%), COPD 38 (14%), asthma/COPD 40 (14%), and eight patients (3%) with other conditions. The diagnosis of asthma was correctly reported by 93% of patients, but only by 61% of those with COPD alone. Among those with both diagnoses, 83% reported asthma and 48% reported COPD. Of those with a diagnosis of COPD, 65% had fixed airflow limitation. Conversely, only 14% of those had been diagnosed with COPD alone. There was no significant difference in reversibility in forced expiratory volume in 1 second between diagnoses. While recognising the value of spirometry in differentiating between asthma and COPD, most general practices only used spirometry in diagnostically difficult cases.
Doctor-diagnosed asthma is accurately reported by patients. However, COPD remains substantially under-diagnosed. Spirometry needs to be more widely used to improve the accuracy of respiratory diagnoses in general practice.
Primary care respiratory journal: journal of the General Practice Airways Group 01/2012; 21(2):167-73.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although guidelines for asthma emphasize the importance of spirometry for continuity and evaluation of care, it is underused in general practice. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of spirometry and medical review on asthma control in general practice over 12 months.
Patients were recruited through 31 practices, which were randomly allocated to one of three groups: Group A had 3-monthly spirometry with medical review, Group B spirometry only before and after the trial, and Group C usual care. Asthma control data were analysed by intention to treat using non-parametric tests and logistic regression models fitted to allow for confounders, repeated measures and clustering by practice.
The trial was completed by 195 patients (Group A 69, Group B 78, Group C 48). Asthma control improved in all groups during the 12 months trial, most impressively in Group A (odds ratio per 3 months = 1.27, 95% confidence interval: 1.08-1.49, P = 0.004), but the difference between the groups' respective 3-monthly changes was not significant. At 6 months, asthma control in Group A had increased more from baseline than in Groups B + C (P = 0.006).
Regular spirometry with medical review was associated with improved asthma control in general practice patients, while there was less improvement in either the spirometry only or usual care group. The mechanisms of this improvement may include appropriate adjustment of medication and improved compliance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate ownership and perceived utility of written asthma action plans (WAAPs) in general practice.
Questionnaires were completed by 225 adults and 75 children with GP-diagnosed asthma from 31 practices. Regression models for WAAP ownership allowed for confounders and clustering by practice. Five audio-recorded focus groups were conducted before questionnaire implementation and, 12 months later, six focus groups and additional in-depth interviews with 29 patients and 16 doctors were conducted. Transcripts were submitted to content and thematic analyses.
A total of 37% of adults and 47% of children had WAAPs. Adults reporting spontaneous shortness of breath, an emergency presentation in the previous 12 months, or frequent GP visits were more likely to have a WAAP. Qualitative data indicated that few acknowledged receipt or use of one. Those who remembered receiving a WAAP found it useful in asthma management in conjunction with verbal advice given by their GP. WAAPs were perceived by some patients as an indicator of doctor competence which, in turn, was viewed as signifying better management of asthma by the patient even if the WAAP was never actually used.
Ownership of WAAPs is still low. Additional and more effective strategies are required to improve rates of GP prescription of WAAPs.
Primary care respiratory journal: journal of the General Practice Airways Group 02/2011; 20(2):161-9, 1 p following 169.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine whether spirometry with regular medical review improves the quality of life or other health outcomes among patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) managed in general practice.
Cluster randomised controlled trial conducted in 31 general practices in Melbourne during 2007-2008. Practices recruited 305 adult patients who had been prescribed inhaled medication in the preceding 6 months.
Practices were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Group A patients received 3-monthly spirometry performed by a respiratory scientist with results returned to the practice and regular medical review; Group B patients received spirometry only before and after the trial; and Group C patients received usual care.
Quality of life, assessed with the 36-item Short Form (SF-36) Australian (English) Version 2 questionnaire at baseline and 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Secondary outcomes were assessed with the European Community Respiratory Health Survey at baseline and 12 months.
The trial was completed by 253 participants: 79 in Group A, 104 in Group B, and 70 in Group C. Median age was 58 years (range, 18-70 years), and 167 participants (66%) were women. There were no significant changes in SF-36 Physical and Mental Component Summary scores from baseline to 12 months, or significant differences between groups on either scale or any subscale of the SF-36. There were also no significant differences in respiratory symptoms, asthma attacks, written asthma action plans, days lost from usual activities or health care utilisation.
Three-monthly spirometry and regular medical reviews by general practitioners are not associated with any significant improvement in quality of life or other health outcomes for patients with asthma and/or COPD.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12606000378527.
The Medical journal of Australia 07/2010; 193(2):104-9. · 2.85 Impact Factor