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Exacerbations and health care resource utilization in patients with airflow limitation diseases attending a primary care setting: the PUMA study

Authors Montes de Oca M, Aguirre C, Lopez Varela MV, Laucho-Contreras ME, Casas A, Surmont F

Received 26 August 2016

Accepted for publication 3 November 2016

Published 7 December 2016 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 3059—3067

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S120776

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


Maria Montes de Oca,1 Carlos Aguirre,2 Maria Victorina Lopez Varela,3 Maria E Laucho-Contreras,1 Alejandro Casas,2 Filip Surmont4

1Service of Pneumology, Hospital Universitario de Caracas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela; 2Colombian Pneumological Foundation, Bogotá, Colombia; 3Universidad de la República, Facultad de Medicina, Hospital Maciel, Montevideo, Uruguay; 4Medical Affairs, AstraZeneca Latin America, Coral Gables, FL, USA

Background: COPD, asthma, and asthma–COPD overlap increase health care resource consumption, predominantly because of hospitalization for exacerbations and also increased visits to general practitioners (GPs) or specialists. Little information is available regarding this in the primary care setting.
Objectives: To describe the prevalence and number of GP and specialist visits for any cause or due to exacerbations in patients with COPD, asthma, and asthma–COPD overlap.
Methods: COPD was defined as post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) ratio <0.70; asthma was defined as prior medical diagnosis, wheezing in the last 12 months, or wheezing plus reversibility (post-bronchodilator FEV1 or FVC increase ≥200 mL and ≥12%); asthma–COPD overlap was defined as post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC <0.70 plus prior asthma diagnosis. Health care utilization was evaluated as GP and/or specialist visits in the previous year.
Results: Among the 1,743 individuals who completed the questionnaire, 1,540 performed acceptable spirometry. COPD patients had a higher prevalence of any medical visits to any physician versus those without COPD (37.2% vs 21.8%, respectively) and exacerbations doubled the number of visits. The prevalence of any medical visits to any physician was also higher in asthma patients versus those without asthma (wheezing: 47.2% vs 22.7%; medical diagnosis: 54.6% vs 21.6%; wheezing plus reversibility: 46.2% vs 23.8%, respectively). Asthma patients with exacerbations had twice the number of visits versus those without an exacerbation. The number of visits was higher (2.8 times) in asthma–COPD overlap, asthma (1.9 times), or COPD (1.4 times) patients versus those without these respiratory diseases; the number of visits due to exacerbation was also higher (4.9 times) in asthma–COPD overlap, asthma (3.5 times), and COPD (3.8 times) patients.
Conclusion: COPD, asthma, and asthma–COPD overlap increase the prevalence of medical visits and, therefore, health care resource utilization. Attempts to reduce health care resource use in these patients require interventions aimed at preventing exacerbations.

Keywords: COPD, asthma, asthma–COPD overlap, exacerbation, health care resource utilization, primary care, PUMA

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