National survey of guideline-compliant COPD management among pneumologists and primary care physicians

Thomas Glaab, Norbert Banik, Olivier T Rutschmann, Marion Wencker
COPD 2006, 3 (3): 141-8
The aim of this survey was to investigate guideline-compliant COPD management among pneumologists and primary care physicians (PCPs). A multiple-choice questionnaire was sent out to 1836 PCPs and 863 pneumologists in Germany. The questions focused on the key aspects of current national and international COPD guidelines. Four hundred eighty-six PCPs and 359 pneumologists participated in the study. It was found that pneumologists held the GOLD guideline in high regard (60.4%), while PCPs tended to follow the German National COPD guideline (66.5%). Differences were also found with regard to diagnosis and classification of COPD on the basis of spirometric and clinical criteria. The current GOLD classification of moderate and severe COPD was used by 36.2% and 23.4% of the pneumologists, respectively, and by 32.1% and 20.2% of the PCPs. Although PCPs and pneumologists endorsed educational measures to help patients quit smoking, implementation was still inadequate. The two most important therapeutic goals were to improve quality of life and prevent exacerbations. Except for the criteria for the use of steroids and the implementation of pulmonary rehabilitation measures, treatment of COPD based on severity class was largely in compliance with guidelines. However, appreciably more PCPs than pneumologists incorrectly assessed the evidence-based clinical benefits of various therapeutic measures. The study shows that, despite the popularity of COPD guidelines, deficits exist among pneumologists and PCPs with respect to diagnosis and treatment of COPD and practical implementation of educational measures. These deficiencies in guideline conformity might be best addressed through targeted continuing-education measures.

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