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Community pharmacy-based case finding for COPD in urban and rural settings is feasible and effective

Authors Fathima M, Saini B, Foster JM, Armour CL

Received 28 June 2017

Accepted for publication 15 August 2017

Published 18 September 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 2753—2761


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Mariam Fathima,1 Bandana Saini,1,2 Juliet M Foster,1 Carol L Armour1,3

1Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney Medical School, 2Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney, 3Central Sydney Area Health Service, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Background and objective: Case finding of patients at risk of COPD by community pharmacists could identify a substantial number of people with undiagnosed COPD, but little is known about the feasibility and effectiveness of pharmacy-based COPD case finding using microspirometry. The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of COPD case-finding service provided by community pharmacists, utilizing a combination of risk assessment questionnaire and microspirometry.
Methods: A 6-month service was conducted in 21 community pharmacies in Australia. Pharmacists trained in COPD case finding, including lung function test (LFT), invited their patients aged ≥35 years with a history of smoking and/or respiratory symptoms to participate. High-risk patients were identified via a COPD risk assessment questionnaire (Initial Screening Questionnaire [ISQ]) and underwent LFT. Pharmacists referred patients with a forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced expiratory volume in 6 seconds (FEV6) ratio <0.75 to their general practitioner (GP) for further assessment and diagnosis.
Results: In all, 91 of 167 (54%) patients had an ISQ score >3 indicating high COPD risk. Of the 157 patients who were able to complete LFT, 61 (39%) had an FEV1/FEV6 ratio of <0.75 and were referred to their GP. Patients with high ISQ symptoms scores (>3) were at a significantly higher risk of an FEV1/FEV6 ratio of <0.75, compared to patients with fewer COPD symptoms. A total of 15 (10%) patients were diagnosed with COPD by their GP. Another eight (5%) patients were diagnosed with other medical conditions and 87% of these were initiated on treatment. Although only half of all screened patients lived in regional areas, 93% of those diagnosed with COPD were from regional areas.
Conclusion: A brief community pharmacy-based COPD case-finding service utilizing the ISQ, LFT and GP referral is feasible and may lead to identification and diagnosis of a substantial number of people with COPD. This might be an important strategy for reducing the burden of COPD, particularly for those living in rural locations.

Keywords: COPD, community pharmacy, case finding, case detection, screening

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