Background: One of the aims of the COPD Assessment Test (CAT) is to aid communication between the physician and patient about the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on the patient's life.
Aims: To investigate the impact of the CAT on the quality of primary care consultations in COPD patients.
Methods: Primary care physicians across Europe conducted six consultations with standardised COPD patients (played by trained actors). Physicians were randomised to see the patient with the completed CAT (CAT+ arm) or without (no CAT arm) during the consultation. These were videoed and independent assessors scored the physicians on their ability to identify and address patient-specific issues such as depression (sub-score A); review standard COPD issues such as breathlessness (sub-score B); their understanding of the case (understanding score); and their overall performance. The primary endpoint was the global score (sub-scores A+B; scale range 0-40).
Results: A total of 165 physicians enrolled in the study and carried out six consultations each; 882 consultations were deemed suitable for analysis. No difference was seen between the arms in the global score (no CAT arm 20.3; CAT+ arm 20.7; 95% CI -1.0 to 1.8; p=0.606) or on sub-score A (p=0.255). A statistically significant difference, though of limited clinical relevance, was observed in mean sub-score B (no CAT arm 8.8; CAT+ arm 9.6; 95% CI 0.0 to 1.6; p=0.045). There was no difference in understanding score (p=0.824) or overall performance (p=0.655).
Conclusions: The CAT is a disease-specific instrument that aids physician assessment of COPD. It does not appear to improve detection of non-COPD symptoms and co-morbidities.