Specialist respiratory outreach: a case-finding initiative for identifying undiagnosed COPD in primary care

NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2021 Feb 11;31(1):7. doi: 10.1038/s41533-021-00219-x.


COPD remains largely undiagnosed or is diagnosed late in the course of disease. We report findings of a specialist outreach programme to identify undiagnosed COPD in primary care. An electronic case-finding algorithm identified 1602 at-risk patients from 12 practices who were invited to attend the clinic. Three hundred and eighty-three (23.9%) responded and 288 were enrolled into the study. Forty-eight (16.6%) had undiagnosed mild and 28 (9.7%) had moderate airway obstruction, meeting spirometric diagnostic criteria for COPD. However, at 12 months only 8 suspected COPD patients (10.6%) had received a diagnostic label in their primary care record. This constituted 0.38% of the total patient population, as compared with 0.31% of control practices, p = 0.306. However, if all patients with airway obstruction received a coding of COPD, then the diagnosis rate in the intervention group would have risen by 0.84%. Despite the low take-up and diagnostic yield, this programme suggests that integrated case-finding strategies could improve COPD recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / epidemiology
  • Spirometry