The aim of this study is to evaluate the ability and practice of spirometry, training of technicians, and spirometry features in primary care centers in Spain, evaluating those located in a rural environment against those in urban areas.
An observational cross-sectional study was conducted in 2012 by a telephone survey in 970 primary health care centers in Spain. The centers were divided into rural or urban depending on the catchment population. The survey contacted technicians in charge of spirometry and consisted of 36 questions related to the test that included the following topics: center resources, training doctors and technicians, using the spirometer, bronchodilator test, and the availability of spirometry and maintenance.
Although the sample size was achieved in both settings, rural centers (RCs) gave a lower response rate than urban centers (UCs). The number of centers without spirometry in rural areas doubled those in the urban areas. Most centers had between one and two spirometers. However, the number of spirometry tests per week was significantly lower in RCs than in UCs (4 [4.1%] vs 6.9 [5.7%], P<0.01). The availability of a specific schedule for conducting spirometries was higher in RCs than in UCs (209 [73.0%] vs 207 [64.2%], P=0.003). RCs were more satisfied with the spirometries (7.8 vs 7.6, P=0.019) and received more training course for interpreting spirometry (41.0% vs 33.2%, P=0.004). The performance of the bronchodilator test showed a homogeneous measure in different ways. The spirometer type and the reference values were unknown to the majority of respondents.