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Qualitative study explores the use of targeted case finding to identify COPD

Qualitative study of the views of nurses, doctors and practice managers to investigate attitudes towards targeted case finding use in COPD.

It is estimated that two million people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are undiagnosed and that diagnosis is only made when the disease is relatively advanced with more serious consequences. Improving rates of early diagnosis is a key policy aim.

Targeted case finding (systematically identifying likely cases through their medical records) in general practice is one approach. This qualitative study of the views of nurses, doctors and practice managers in 34 practices investigated attitudes to this approach.

Most of those interviewed used opportunistic case-finding although conceptually targeted case-finding was accepted. The main barriers to introducing it were practical such as the absence of financial resources for staff to do it, the need to have practical and educational support from specialists and the need for detailed guidance in how to run such a programme most efficiently.

There was also some scepticism as to the value of identifying mild COPD and a desire for unequivocal evidence of the benefits from patient and healthcare system of early diagnosis.

Summers RH, Sharmeen T, Lippiett K et al (2017) A qualitative study of GP, nurse and practice manager views on using targeted case-finding to identify patients with COPD in primary care. NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 27, 1, 49. doi: 10.1038/s41533-017-0049-3.

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