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COPD Guidelines Found Underutilized



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ATLANTA – Regardless of disease severity, guideline-concordant treatment is not provided to nearly half of all patients who have stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and are treated in the ambulatory care setting, findings from an observational study suggest.

The study also indicated that guideline-concordant treatment was more likely to be provided when patients were comanaged by a pulmonologist and a primary care physician.

Of 450 patients, 56% received guideline-concordant care as outlined by the 2010 Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) stage-specific recommendations, Dr. Gulshan Sharma reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

No differences were found in treatment level with respect to age, gender, race, disease severity, or comorbidities on multivariate analysis, but patients comanaged by a primary care physician and a pulmonologist were more likely to receive an appropriate level of care, as compared to patients treated by a primary care physician (odds ratio, 4.6), said Dr. Sharma of the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

Clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with COPD in the ambulatory care setting are issued and updated regularly. Previous studies have demonstrated the value of these guidelines for improving the quality of care of patients with COPD and for reducing exacerbations and hospitalizations.

However, the degree to which these guidelines are implemented in clinical practice has been unclear, Dr. Sharma said. The study findings suggest that they are underutilized, particularly by primary care physicians.

Patients included in the study were adults with a clinical diagnosis of COPD and at least one outpatient visit between January and December 2010. The mean age of participants was 67 years, 46% were women, 20% had no comorbidities, and 75% had one or two comorbidities.

About 7% had GOLD stage I disease, almost half (more than 46%) had GOLD stage II disease, 33% had stage III disease, and 13% had stage IV disease.

Additionally, 47% were managed by a primary care physician alone, 41% were comanaged by a primary care physician and a pulmonologist, 10% did not have a primary care physician and received care mainly from a specialist, and about 2% had no regular care provider.

The findings indicate a need for efforts to increase awareness of clinical practice guidelines and the importance of adherence to the guidelines in patients with COPD, particularly among primary care physicians, Dr. Sharma concluded.

Dr. Sharma reported having no conflict of interest.

Sharon Worcester is an IMNG Medical News freelance writer based in Birmingham, Ala. or

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