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      Municipality screening of citizens with suspicion of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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          Up to 436,000 adult Danes suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with only one third diagnosed at this time. The Danish National Board of Health recommends early detection of COPD, focusing on smokers/ex-smokers over 35 years of age with at least one lung symptom. A governmental prevention committee has suggested that the municipalities, in addition to general practice, should be a potential arena responsible for early detection of COPD. We undertook a pilot study to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of early detection of COPD in municipalities following the recommendations of the Danish National Board of Health.


          The Municipality of Esbjerg offered spirometry to Danish citizens at risk of COPD without a previous diagnosis of the disease, following the National Board of Health’s recommendations. Citizens with evidence of airway obstruction (forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV 1]/forced vital capacity [FVC] <70%) were advised to visit their general practitioner for diagnosis. These citizens were followed up by telephone interview 3 months later.


          Of 152 citizens sampled (50% females, mean age 58 years, 51% smokers) 51.3% had evidence of airway obstruction, with 87% being mild to moderate in terms of severity. Seven of ten citizens (71%) then visited their general practitioner, with 85% of these being diagnosed with COPD. The number of smokers embarking on smoking cessation or quitting smoking increased following COPD screening, with the highest frequency in participants with evidence of airway obstruction.


          In addition to early detection of COPD in general practice, early detection of airway obstruction in defined risk populations in Danish municipalities seems feasible and effective for identifying new patients with COPD. However, additional research is needed in larger samples to confirm the results of the present study.

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          Most cited references 33

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          The significance of respiratory symptoms and the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis in a working population.

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            Screening for and early detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

            Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a substantially underdiagnosed disorder, with the diagnosis typically missed or delayed until the condition is advanced. Spirometry is the most frequently used pulmonary function test and enables health professionals to make an objective measurement of airflow obstruction and assess the degree to which it is reversible. As a diagnostic test for COPD, spirometry is a reliable, simple, non-invasive, safe, and non-expensive procedure. Early diagnosis of COPD should provide support for smoking cessation initiatives and lead to reduction of the societal burden of the disease, but definitive confirmation of both proves elusive. Despite substantial effort and investment, implementation of quality spirometry is deficient because of several hurdles and limitations, described in this Review. All in all, spirometry is recognised as the essential test for diagnosis and monitoring of COPD.
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              Prevalence and underdiagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among patients at risk in primary care.

              People with known risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are important targets for screening and early intervention. We sought to measure the prevalence of COPD among such individuals visiting a primary care practitioner for any reason. We also evaluated the accuracy of prior diagnosis or nondiagnosis of COPD and identified associated clinical characteristics. We recruited patients from three primary care sites who were 40 years or older and had a smoking history of at least 20 pack-years. Participants were asked about respiratory symptoms and underwent postbronchodilator spirometry. COPD was defined as a ratio of forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration to forced vital capacity (FEV(1)/FVC) of less than 0.7 and an FEV(1) of less than 80% predicted. Of the 1459 patients who met the study criteria, 1003 (68.7%) completed spirometry testing. Of these, 208 were found to have COPD, for a prevalence of 20.7% (95% confidence interval 18.3%-23.4%). Of the 205 participants with COPD who completed the interview about respiratory symptoms before spirometry, only 67 (32.7%) were aware of their diagnosis before the study. Compared with patients in whom COPD had been correctly diagnosed before the study, those in whom COPD had been over-diagnosed or undiagnosed were similar in terms of age, sex, current smoking status and number of visits to a primary care practitioner because of a respiratory problem. Among adult patients visiting a primary care practitioner, as many as one in five with known risk factors met spirometric criteria for COPD. Underdiagnosis of COPD was frequent, which suggests a need for greater screening of at-risk individuals. Knowledge of the prevalence of COPD will help plan strategies for disease management.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                01 February 2012
                : 7
                : 35-41
                [1 ]Department of Health Prevention and Promotion, Municipality of Esbjerg, Esbjerg
                [2 ]Medical and Access, Pfizer Denmark, Ballerup, Denmark
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Peter Bo Poulsen, Customer Development Manager, Pfizer Denmark Aps, Medical and Access, Lautrupvang 8, DK-2750, Ballerup, Denmark, Tel +45 4420 1211, Fax +45 4420 1114, Email peterbo.poulsen@
                © 2012 Riegels-Jakobsen et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Original Research


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