RATIONALE, AIMS, AND OBJECTIVES: Early identification of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) results in patients receiving appropriate management for their condition at an earlier stage in their disease. The determining the optimal approach to identifying individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (DOC) study was a case-finding study to enhance early identification of COPD in primary care, which evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of a series of simple lung function tests and symptom-based case-finding questionnaires.
METHODS: Current smokers aged 35 or more were invited to undertake a series of case-finding tools, which comprised lung function tests (specifically, spirometry, microspirometry, peak flow meter, and WheezoMeter) and several case-finding questionnaires. The effectiveness of these tests, individually or in combination, to identify small airways obstruction was evaluated against the gold standard of spirometry, with the quality of spirometry tests assessed by independent overreaders. The study was conducted with general practices in the Yorkshire and Humberside area, in the UK.
RESULTS: Six hundred eighty-one individuals met the inclusion criteria, with 444 participants completing their study appointments. A total of 216 (49%) with good-quality spirometry readings were included in the analysis. The most effective case-finding tools were found to be the peak flow meter alone, the peak flow meter plus WheezoMeter, and microspirometry alone. In addition to the main analysis, where the severity of airflow obstruction was based on fixed ratios and percent of predicted values, sensitivity analyses were conducted by using lower limit of normal values.
CONCLUSIONS: This research informs the choice of test for COPD identification; case-finding by use of the peak flow meter or microspirometer could be used routinely in primary care for suspected COPD patients. Only those testing positive to these tests would move on to full spirometry, thereby reducing unnecessary spirometric testing.
- Journal Article