Primary care providers' views on using lung age as an aid to smoking cessation counseling for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Donna R Parker, Sarah Eltinge, Caitlin Rafferty, Charles B Eaton, Jennifer G Clarke, Roberta E Goldman
Lung 2015, 193 (3): 321-7

PURPOSE: Smoking cessation is the primary goal for managing patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who smoke. However, previous studies have demonstrated poor cessation rates. The "lung age" concept (an estimate of the age at which the FEV(1) would be considered normal) was developed to present spirometry data in an understandable format and to serve as a tool to encourage smokers to quit. Primary care physicians' (PCPs) views of using lung age to help COPD patients to quit smoking were assessed.

METHODS: Post-intervention interviews were conducted with PCPs in the U.S. who participated in the randomized clinical trial, "Translating the GOLD COPD Guidelines into Primary Care Practice."

RESULTS: 29 physicians completed the interview. Themes identified during interviews included: general usefulness of lung age for smoking cessation counseling, ease of understanding the concept, impact on patients' thoughts of quitting smoking, and comparison to FEV(1). Most providers found lung age easy to communicate. Moreover, some found the tool to be less judgmental for smoking cessation and others remarked on the merits of having a simple, tangible number to discuss with their patients. However, some expressed doubt over the long-term benefits of lung age and several others thought that there might be a potential backfire for healthy smokers if their lung age was ≤ to their chronological age.

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that lung age was well received by the majority of PCPs and appears feasible to use with COPD patients who smoke. However, further investigation in needed to explore COPD patients' perspectives of obtaining their lung age to help motivate them to quit in randomized clinical trials.

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