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Multidiscip Respir Med. 2013 Mar 19;8(1):24. doi: 10.1186/2049-6958-8-24.

COPD management in primary care: is an educational plan for GPs useful?

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  • 1Respiratory Rehabilitative Division Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri IRCCS, Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 129, Lumezzane, BS, 25066, Italy.



GPs currently deal with COPD. The aim of this study was to review COPD management, data collection in medical records, and adherence to GOLD guidelines of 12 GPs from rural areas of Northern Italy and to assess changes after an educational program (EP).


From 2004 to 2008 medical records of patients, defined as COPD by GPs, were analyzed. Data collection in terms of tests prescription, Forced Expiratory Volume at first second (FEV1), smoking habits and actual drug treatment were reviewed at baseline and 1 year after EP.


437 patients were defined as COPD. GPs prescribed more chest X-rays than spirometry (99% vs. 74%, p<0.001), FEV1 was registered only in 50% of the population. GPs prescribed "correct" or "doubtful" (not related to FEV1) therapy in 38% and 56% of patients, respectively. Only smoking habit registration increased significantly (p<0.05) after EP.


Adherence to COPD Guidelines is suboptimal and data collection is poor. The EP did not change significantly GPs' practice: i) COPD diagnosis is largely clinical, ii) usage of spirometry is poor, GPs prescribe more chest X-rays iii) a small proportion of patients receive respiratory therapy, iv) therapy is often incorrect or not related to FEV1, v) correct clinical practice is influenced by the number of COPD patients and number of dedicated visits.

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