Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major public health burden and profoundly affects individuals suffering from the disease. However, the majority of subjects with COPD are still undiagnosed. Objectives: To evaluate COPD prevalence and detection strategies for COPD in the primary-care setting. Methods: The study was conducted in a random sample of general practitioner (GP) offices in Salzburg (Austria). A questionnaire and post-bronchodilator (PBD) spirometry was administered to patients aged ≥40 years. Nonreversible airway obstruction was considered when PBD FEV1/FVC was <0.70. Severity of spirometrically defined COPD was graded according to the GOLD recommendations. Results: 60 GP offices were randomly selected for study participation, however only 30 (50.0%) were willing to participate. 1,230 of 9,820 (12.52%) patients consented to the protocol. Quality of PBD spirometry was evaluated, and 882 (71.7%) met ATS/ERS quality criteria. 7.5% (95% CI: 5.7-9.4%) of the patients had COPD grade II+ (FEV1/FVC <0.7 and FEV1 <80% of predicted), but only 22.4% of them reported a prior physician"s diagnosis of COPD. Similar results were seen for the 2005 Salzburg BOLD (Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease) sample with regard to COPD GOLD II+ prevalence (10.7%) and proportion of underdiagnosis (82.3%). Conclusion: COPD in the primary-care setting is as prevalent and underdiagnosed as reported recently for the BOLD study. The surprisingly low participation rate of GPs and patients indicates that prevention of COPD is not a health priority, and that awareness for COPD has to heightened before case-finding strategies will be successful. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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