MJA study: Support needed for GPs in diagnosing COPD
A recent article in MJA reviewed the accuracy of diagnoses of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in primary care in Australia and found that spirometry testing could improve diagnosis. The study revealed that COPD can go misdiagnosed or missed, and GPs faced barriers in having access to the necessary equipment to administer a spirometry test to patients.
The authors of the study pointed to a need for improving access to a spirometer in general practices, increasing training in performing spirometry and reading the results, and providing resources and incentives for GPs to adopt spirometry testing in their practice. They also stated that evidence-based guidelines are needed for the optimal diagnosis and management of COPD. Identifying COPD early can help to facilitate earlier initiation of treatment.
GPs with patients who are smokers are encouraged to review respiratory symptoms and suggest changes in smoking behaviour, including smoking cessation. COPD can be prevented and more easily treated by smoking cessation – up to 50% of smokers develop clinically significant COPD. The study concluded that e-cigarettes are not a suitable recommendation to help quit smoking, something the AMA supports as there is no evidence associated with their role as a cessation aid.