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Barriers to spirometry in Australian general practice: A systematic review.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The reasons for the underutilisation of spirometry are unclear. We undertook a systematic review assessing barriers to correct spirometry in Australian general practice.

METHOD: PRISMA guidelines were followed. Six databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Scopus, PubMed, Google Scholar) were searched using terms 'primary health care', 'family physicians', 'family practice', 'general practice', 'primary care', 'Australia' and 'spirometry'.

RESULTS: The 11 included studies reported multiple barriers to the use of spirometry in Australian general practice. Barriers for clinicians included spirometry having limited clinical utility in general practice (six studies), a reported low confidence with spirometry (six studies) and demonstrated poor spirometry interpretation skills (two studies). Practice-related barriers were time (six studies), cost (four studies), lack of trained staff (four studies), poor availability (four studies) and poor technique/calibration (two studies). Patient reluctance to attend for spirometry (four studies) was also reported as a barrier.

DISCUSSION: To reduce barriers to correct spirometry, its perceived low clinical utility and patient reluctance require remediation. Issues of cost, confidence and competence might be addressed by reimbursement settings and ongoing training.

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