COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Use of office spirometers in Flemish general practice: results of a telephone survey

N Boffin, V Van der Stighelen, D Paulus, P Van Royen
Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease 2006, 65 (3): 128-32
17220101

BACKGROUND: While office spirometry is seen as potentially useful and feasible in general practice, little is known about its use in Flemish general practice. Our aim was to describe the use of spirometers by Flemish GPs, characteristics of their spirometry practice, training needs and preferences, and attitudes towards office spirometry.

METHODS: A telephone survey was set up in a random sample of Flemish GPs. Interviews were carried out by a GP researcher using a structured piloted questionnaire.

RESULTS: 197 out of 243 eligible GPs (81%) were interviewed. Most GPs (66%) had never used an office spirometer, 17.3% were using one and 16.7% stopped using one. Time constraints (54%) and insufficient knowledge and skills (27%) were the main reasons for not using an office spirometer (any longer). GPs particularly used their spirometer to diagnose COPD and asthma, and less frequently in follow-up. GPs (67.9%), especially current users (91.2%), considered spirometry as a GP task. Spirometry training should be provided (86%) and spirometry by GPs should be reimbursed (79.5%). More information on spirometry would be very useful (62.3%), with a marked preference for training in small groups (86.8%).

CONCLUSION: Although office spirometry is not widespread in Flemish general practice, GPs show an undoubted interest in it. They need educational and financial support to overcome prevailing barriers in establishing office spirometry on a routine basis.

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