Objective: To explore spirometry utilization among general practitioners and identify practitioner and practice-related factors associated with spirometry utilization.
Design: Multivariate multilevel cross-sectional analysis of a questionnaire survey.
Setting: Some 61 general practices involved in a spirometry evaluation programme in the Netherlands. All practices owned a spirometer and were trained to perform spirometry.
Subjects: A total of 144 general practitioners and 179 practice assistants.
Main outcome measures: Extent of spirometry utilization for five indications from national COPD/asthma guidelines, practitioner and practice-related factors associated with spirometry utilization.
Results: The response rate was 97%. General practitioners used spirometry mostly to evaluate treatment with inhaled steroids (58%). Significant practitioner-related factors associated with spirometry utilization were: general practitioners' job satisfaction, general practitioners' general interest in research, and prior participation in spirometry training. Practice-related factors associated with spirometry utilization were: presence of a practice nurse, delegation of medical tasks to practice assistants, use of spirometry in different rooms, and use of protocols in practice.
Conclusion: Practitioner- as well as practice-related factors were associated with the extent of spirometry utilization. In particular, it is essential to improve practice-related factors (e.g. presence of a practice nurse, more delegation of medical tasks to the practice assistant).