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The use of spirometry in a primary care setting

Authors Elizabeth A Blain, Timothy J Craig

Published 1 October 2009 Volume 2009:2 Pages 183—186


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Elizabeth A Blain, Timothy J Craig

Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA, USA

Objective: To determine the use of spirometry in family practice, internal medicine, and pediatric outpatient settings.

Methods: Data were collected from 45 outpatient offices in the central Pennsylvania area via phone survey that asked a set of four questions: 1) Do you have spirometry in your office? 2) Do you use spirometry for asthma patients? 3) In what situation do you use spirometry for? 4) Do you use spirometry more for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma? Results: It was found that pediatricians used spirometry 66% of the time, family practitioners 47% of the time, and internal medicine practitioners 60% of the time. Of those who did not use spirometry, 94% stated that they refer to a hospital if they required spirometry and 6% referred to subspecialists if the patient required spirometry. 10% of pediatricians performed the test on each asthma visit, otherwise the others used it only for exacerbations or as a baseline. No internists used spirometry regularly for asthma patients, and 22% used it more for COPD. In family practice only 14% used spirometry routinely at each visit for asthma patients.

Conclusions: Pediatricians used spirometry more often in the outpatient setting than other specialists, followed closely by internal medicine physicians. Family practice physicians were the least likely to use spirometry. Multiple barriers seemed to prevent routine use of spirometry, but no one barrier accounted for the majority.

Keywords: spirometry, asthma, primary care

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