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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

COPD patients prescribed inhaled corticosteroid in general practice: Based on disease characteristics according to guidelines?

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In a primary care setting, our aim was to investigate characteristics of patients classified as having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and currently being prescribed inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs). The electronic patient record system in each participating general practice was searched for patients coded as COPD (ICPC, Second Edition code R95) and treated with ICS (ACT code R03AK and R03BA, that is, ICS in combination with a long-acting β2-agonist) or ICS as monotherapy. Data, if available, on demographics, smoking habits, spirometry, COPD medication, symptom score, blood eosinophils, co-morbidity and exacerbation history were retrieved from the medical records for all identified cases. Of all patients registered in the 138 participating general practices, 12.560 (3%) were coded as COPD, of whom 32% were prescribed ICS. The final study sample comprised 2.289 COPD patients currently prescribed ICS (98% also prescribed long-acting β2-agonist), with 24% being coded as both COPD and asthma. Post-bronchodilator spirometry was available in 79% (mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second 60% pred (standard deviation (SD) 23.3)), symptom severity score in 53% (mean Medical Research Council score 2.7 (SD 1.1)) and 56% of the COPD patients had had no exacerbation in the previous year (and 45% not within the 2 previous years). Blood eosinophils were measured in 67% of the patients. Information on severity of airflow limitation was missing in 15% of the patients, and the combined information on symptom severity and exacerbation history was missing in in 46%. Most of the patients (74%) were managed only by their general practitioner. Although only one-third of the COPD patients were prescribed ICSs, our findings from this study of a large cohort of patients prescribed ICSs for COPD in general practice suggest that more detailed assessment of diagnosis and disease characteristics is likely to improve the risk-benefit ratio of maintenance therapy with ICSs in COPD patients managed in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChronic Respiratory Disease
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2019

    Research areas

  • characteristics, COPD, general practice, inhaled corticosteroids

ID: 57822622