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Clinical diaries in COPD: compliance and utility in predicting acute exacerbations

Authors Walters EH, Walters J, Wills K, Robinson A, Wood-Baker R

Received 26 March 2012

Accepted for publication 11 May 2012

Published 10 July 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 427—435


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

E Haydn Walters,1 Julia Walters,1 Karen E Wills,1 Andrew Robinson,2 Richard Wood-Baker1

1Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Hobart; 2School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Background: Daily diaries are often used to collect data on disease activity, but are burdensome and compliance may be poor. Their use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and impact on the prevention and treatment of exacerbations is poorly researched.
Methods: We investigated diary-keeping in COPD and ascertained items that best predicted emergency attendances for exacerbations. Participants in the active limb of a clinical trial in COPD kept daily diaries rating breathlessness, cough, sputum, physical activity, and use of reliever medication.
Results: Data on 55 participants, 67% of whom were female, showed that overall compliance with diary-keeping was 62%. Participants educated to primary school level only had lower compliance (P = 0.05). Twenty patients had at least one emergency attendance, in whom the relative risk of an acute exacerbation for an increase in item score rose from six days prior to hospitalization, most sharply in the last two days. Even for optimal combinations of items, the positive predictive value was poor, the best combination being cough, activity level, and inhaler use.
Conclusion: Good compliance can be achieved using daily diaries in COPD, although this is worse in those with a poor educational level. Diary-keeping is not accurate in predicting acute exacerbations, but could be substantially simplified without loss of efficiency.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, daily diary, secondary prevention

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