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Original Research: ASTHMA |

Spirometry Can Be Done in Family Physicians’ Offices and Alters Clinical Decisions in Management of Asthma and COPD*

Barbara P. Yawn, MD, MSc; Paul L. Enright, MD; Robert F. Lemanske, Jr, MD; Elliot Israel, MD, FCCP; Wilson Pace, MD; Peter Wollan, PhD; Homer Boushey, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Research (Drs. Yawn and Wollan), Olmsted Medical Center, Rochester, MN; Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Dr. Enright), University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; Department of Medicine (Dr. Lemanske), Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison WI; Department of Medicine (Dr. Israel), Division of Respiratory Therapy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; National Research Network (Dr. Pace), American Academy of Family Physicians, Leawood, KS; Department of Medicine (Dr. Boushey), Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, University of Southern California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

Correspondence to: Barbara Yawn, MD, MSc, Olmsted Medical Center, Department of Research, 210 Ninth St SE, Rochester, MN 55904; e-mail: yawnx002@umn.edu



Chest. 2007;132(4):1162-1168. doi:10.1378/chest.06-2722
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Background: Spirometry is recommended for diagnosis and management of obstructive lung disease. While many patients with asthma and COPD are cared for by primary care practices, limited data are available on the use and results associated with spirometry in primary care.

Object: To assess the technical adequacy, accuracy of interpretation, and impact of office spirometry.

Design: A before-and-after quasiexperimental design.

Setting: Three hundred eighty-two patients from 12 family medicine practices across the United States.

Participants: Patients with asthma and COPD, and staff from the 12 practices.

Measurements: Technical adequacy of spirometry results, concordance between family physician and pulmonary expert interpretations of spirometry test results, and changes in asthma and COPD management following spirometry testing.

Results: Of the 368 tests completed over the 6 months, 71% were technically adequate for interpretation. Family physician and pulmonary expert interpretations were concordant in 76% of completed tests. Spirometry was followed by changes in management in 48% of subjects with completed tests, including 107 medication changes (>85% concordant with guideline recommendations) and 102 nonpharmacologic changes. Concordance between family physician and expert interpretations of spirometry results was higher in those patients with asthma compared to those with COPD.

Discussion and conclusions: US family physicians can perform and interpret spirometry for asthma and COPD patients at rates comparable to those published in the literature for international primary care studies, and the spirometry results modify care.

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