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      Knowledge about COPD among users of primary health care services

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          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is often underdiagnosed, which might be attributable to a lack of knowledge about the disease among the general population. The objective of this study was to evaluate COPD-related knowledge among primary care users in an urban area in Brazil.


          This study was carried out at primary care clinics (PCCs), including 12 general PCCs and 26 family health PCCs, in the city of Goiânia, Brazil. Between May 2013 and February 2014, we interviewed 674 PCC users, applying a questionnaire designed to assess COPD-related knowledge. Satisfactory knowledge of COPD was defined as knowing at least two of its symptoms and that smoking is a risk factor for the disease.


          Of the 674 users interviewed, only 9.2% recognized the term “COPD”, 75.1% recognized the term “emphysema”, and 15.7% did not recognize either term. We found that recognizing either term was associated with a higher level of education ( P<0.001). The prevalence of satisfactory knowledge of COPD was 16.2%, and having such knowledge was associated with being over 60 years of age. The COPD symptom known by the greatest proportion of users (70.6%) was dyspnea, and most (87.5%) knew that smoking is a risk factor, whereas only a few (4.9%) knew that exposure to wood smoke is also a risk factor. The most frequently cited sources of knowledge were the media (43.1%) and a relative with COPD (36.4%).


          Most of the PCC users evaluated did not know the term “COPD” but were familiar with the term “emphysema”. The level of basic knowledge about the disease was low in this population. These results should alert health care administrators to the need for interventions aimed at increasing the diagnosis rate and thus promoting the early treatment of COPD.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Prevalence, severity and underdiagnosis of COPD in the primary care setting.

          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common disease with a steadily increasing prevalence and mortality. However, recent epidemiological estimates differ depending on the population studied and methods used. To investigate the prevalence, severity and burden of COPD in a primary care setting. From 4730 patients registered in a single primary care practice, all 2250 patients aged 40 years or more were invited to participate. Participants completed a questionnaire on smoking, respiratory symptoms, education and social status. A physical examination was followed by pre- and post-bronchodilator (BD) spirometry. Of the eligible patients, 1960 (87%) participated. 92% of spirometric tests met the ATS criteria. Airflow limitation was demonstrated in 299 (15%) of the participants pre-BD and in 211 (11%) post-BD. COPD was diagnosed in 183 patients (9.3%). Of these patients, the degree of post-BD airflow limitation was mild in 30.6%, moderate in 51.4%, severe in 15.3% and very severe in 2.7%. Only 18.6% of these patients had previously been diagnosed with COPD; almost all of these had severe or very severe airflow limitation. As a result of the study, a diagnosis of asthma was made in 122 patients. The prevalence and underdiagnosis of COPD in adult patients in this primary care setting made case finding worthwhile. Large numbers of newly detected patients were symptomatic and needed treatment. Limiting investigations to smokers would have reduced the number of COPD diagnoses by 26%.
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            Chronic respiratory symptoms, spirometry and knowledge of COPD among general population.

            Infradiagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be related to the lack of knowledge about the disease and/or the scarce use of diagnostic procedures. This study analyses the frequency of respiratory symptoms and the knowledge about COPD in the general population, together with the use of spirometry in individuals at risk of COPD. A telephone survey was carried out in 6758 subjects older than 40 years, stratified by age, habitat (urban or rural) and region, screened by random-digit dialling. Up to 24% reported having at least one chronic respiratory symptom and 20.9% had a self-reported respiratory diagnosis. A total of 19.2% were active smokers and 40% had never tried to quit. Only 60% of the individuals with chronic symptoms had consulted a physician and, of them, only 45% had undergone spirometry. Spirometry was mentioned more frequently by subjects attended by pulmonologists than by GPs (67.6 vs. 28.6%; P<0.001). The term COPD was identified only by 8.6% of the participants. Many individuals with respiratory symptoms do not request medical attention and do not attempt to quit smoking. There is a lack of knowledge about COPD. Physicians should more actively inform about the disease and increase the use of spirometry for early detection.
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              Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a survey of patients' knowledge and attitudes.

              Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common respiratory condition and the fourth leading cause of death in Canada. However, little is known about the impact of COPD on the lives and attitudes of individuals living with this condition. The purpose of this study was to determine whether Canadians with COPD are properly educated and supported, and to recommend solutions to any care gaps identified. A total of 389 Canadians were surveyed who were 40 years of age and older, physician diagnosed with COPD, and current or former smokers. The telephone survey contained 68 items and took 35 min to complete. COPD severity was classified according to symptom severity using the Medical Research Council (MRC) score. Respondents tended to overestimate their disease severity and reported substantial symptom burden and psychosocial impact of living with COPD. Most individuals claimed to be well informed about COPD; however, their knowledge was poor in several domains including the causes of COPD, the consequences of inadequate therapy and the management of exacerbations. Family physicians were the main health care providers. A minority of respondents had seen a lung health educator. Only 34% had ever received a written action plan and only 33% had been told how to prevent an exacerbation. The symptom burden and psychosocial impact of living with COPD is substantial. There are significant gaps in patients' knowledge about the management of COPD and little contact with lung health educators. Increased use of COPD-specific, self-management education programs may help rectify these care gaps.

                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
                17 December 2014
                : 10
                : 1-6
                [1 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, School of Medicine, Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil
                [2 ]Respiratory Division at Escola Paulista de Medicina, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil
                [3 ]School of Nursing, Federal University of Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil
                [4 ]Pulmonology Department, Goiânia General Hospital, Goiânia, Brazil
                [5 ]School of Medicine, University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Maria Conceição de Castro Antonelli Monteiro de Queiroz, Department of Respiratory Medicine, School of Medicine, Federal University of Goias, First Avenue, s/n – East Sector University, 74605-020 Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil, Tel +55 62 3269 8294, Fax +55 62 3269 8294, Email pneumohc@
                © 2015 de Queiroz et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                primary care, underdiagnosis, health professional, perception


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