Objective: To investigate the use and interpretation of spirometry in primary care (PC) in the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to identify the treatment schedules administered.
Methods: An observational study was performed in a randomized sample of 251 PC physicians including 2130 patients with COPD. Data on the performance of spirometry and the results and the treatment administered were collected as were sociodemographic and clinical data.
Results: Spirometric results were obtained in 1243 (58.4%). Most (1118/1243; 89.9%) corresponded to FEV1 (%) values with a mean of 57% (SD=21.5%). It is of note that only 31.8% of spirometric results provided post-bonchodilator results, and 42.9% and 43.1% of the spirometries presented not plausible FVC or FEV1 values, respectively. Treatment varied greatly, with more than 3 drugs being prescribed in 30.6% of the cases. Long-acting beta-2 agonists and inhaled corticosteroids were prescribed in more than 50% of the patients. Tiotropium was administered in 32.4%. According to the GOLD guidelines, 22.8% of the patients in GOLD II, 50% in III and 66.7% in IV were receiving incorrect treatment.
Conclusions: Only 58.4% of the cases included had undergone spirometry. Important deficiencies were observed in the interpretation of the results of spirometry. These difficulties may influence the low implementation of treatment guidelines in COPD in PC.