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Can Respir J. 2013 Mar-Apr;20(2):97-105.

Canadian practice assessment in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: respiratory specialist physician perception versus patient reality.

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Department of Medicine, QEII Health Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common respiratory condition and the fourth leading cause of death in Canada. Optimal COPD management requires patients to participate in their care and physician knowledge of patients' perceptions of their disease.


A prospective study in which respiratory specialist physicians completed a practice assessment questionnaire and patient assessments for 15 to 20 consecutive patients with COPD. Patients also completed a questionnaire regarding their perceptions of COPD and its management.


A total of 58 respiratory specialist physicians from across Canada completed practice assessments and 931 patient assessments. A total of 640 patients with COPD (96% with moderate, severe or very severe disease) completed questionnaires. Symptom burden was high and most patients had experienced a recent exacerbation. Potential COPD care gaps were identified with respect to appropriate medication prescription, lack of an action plan, and access to COPD educators and pulmonary rehabilitation. Perceived knowledge needs and gaps differed between physicians and patients.


Despite the dissemination of Canadian and international COPD clinical practice guidelines for more than a decade, potential care gaps remain among patients seen by respiratory specialist physicians. Differing perceptions regarding many aspects of COPD among physicians and patients may contribute to these care gaps.

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