Case finding for COPD in primary care: a qualitative study of the views of health professionals

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Colleges, School and Institutes


BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is common but largely underdiagnosed. Case-finding initiatives have been evaluated in primary care, but few studies have explored the views of service providers on implementing them in practice.

AIM: To explore the views of primary health care providers on case finding for COPD.

METHODS: A total of 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted from March 2014 to September 2014 among general practitioners, nurses, and managers from practices participating in a large COPD case-finding trial based in primary care in the West Midlands, UK. Participants' views were sought to explore perceived benefits, harms, barriers, and facilitators to implementing COPD case finding in practice. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the framework method.

RESULTS: Participants felt that case finding improves patient care but also acknowledged potential harms to providers (increase in workload) and to patients (overdiagnosis). Insufficient resources, poor knowledge of COPD, and limited access to diagnostic services were viewed as barriers to diagnosis, while provision of community respiratory services, including COPD specialist nurses, and support from secondary care were thought to be facilitators. Participants also expressed a need for more education on COPD for both patients and clinicians.

CONCLUSION: Care providers believe that early detection of COPD improves patient care but also has accompanying harms. Barriers to diagnosing COPD, such as insufficient expertise in primary care and limited access to diagnostic services in the community, should be explored and addressed. The knowledge and attitudes of the public about COPD and its symptoms should also be investigated to inform future education and awareness-raising strategies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1711-1718
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2015


  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, primary care, diagnosis, qualitative research