This study utilized a validated combination of a COPD Population Screener (COPD-PS) questionnaire and a handheld spirometric device as a screening tool for patients at high risk of COPD, such as smokers. The study aimed to investigate and pilot the feasibility and application of this combined assessment, which we termed the “VitalQPlus”, as a screening tool for the early detection of COPD, especially in primary care settings.
This was a cross-sectional study screening potentially undiagnosed COPD patients using a validated five-item COPD-PS questionnaire together with a handheld spirometric device. Patients were recruited from selected Malaysian government primary care health centers.
Of the total of 83 final participants, only 24.1% (20/83) were recruited from Perak and Penang (peninsular Malaysia) compared to 75.9% (63/83) from Sabah (Borneo region). Our dual assessment approach identified 8.4% of the surveyed patients as having potentially undiagnosed COPD. When only the Vitalograph COPD-6 screening tool was used, 15.8% of patients were detected with a forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced expiratory volume in 6 seconds (FEV1/FEV6) ratio at <0.75, while 35.9% of patients were detected with the COPD-PS questionnaire. These findings suggested that this dual assessment approach has a greater chance of identifying potentially undiagnosed COPD patients compared to the Vitalograph COPD-6 or COPD-PS questionnaire when used alone. Our findings show that patients with more symptoms (scores of ≥5) yielded twice the percentage of outcomes of FEV1/FEV6 <0.75 compared to patients with fewer COPD symptoms (scores <5).
With the availability of a simple screening questionnaire and the COPD-6, there is an opportunity easily to make patients more aware of their lung symptoms and to encourage the provision of early treatment. The proposed dual assessment approach, which we termed the VitalQPlus, may play a profound role in the early diagnosis of COPD, which is crucial in improving the clinical management of the disease.