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Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Swiss primary care: room for improvement

Background Information on the quality of care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Swiss primary care is limited. Aim To identify gaps and quality improvement potential in COPD primary care in Switzerland. Methods Pooled analysis of selected published data. Six international COPD guidelines (German, Swiss, United Kingdom, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand, and the global initiative on obstructive lung disease [GOLD] guidelines) were reviewed for care elements with a level of evidence rated II and higher in at least three of the six guidelines. We compared published data on COPD management in Swiss primary care with these recommendations and with published international benchmarks. Results Nine elements fulfilled the criteria for evidence level II or higher in at least three of six COPD guidelines. These were summarised in six key domains: diagnosis, smoking cessation counselling, influenza vaccination, pharmacological treatment, patient education and pulmonary rehabilitation (long term oxygen and palliative care are not the focus of COPD primary care in Switzerland and outpatient exacerbation management was subordinated to pharmacological treatment and education). Swiss primary care data revealed spirometric confirmation of diagnosis in 55% of patients, smoking cessation counselling in 50% and influenza vaccination in 66%. Inadequate prescription of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) was high at 38% in mild COPD and 43% in moderate COPD. Referral for pulmonary rehabilitation, even for patients with severe COPD, was low at 19% and data on patient education were rare. Diagnosis, patient education and referral for pulmonary rehabilitation revealed the highest, and influenza vaccination the lowest performance gap. Conclusion Gaps between current care and recommended best practice exist in Swiss primary care COPD management. Promoting and implementing evidence-based frameworks for developing high quality care for patients with COPD are necessary.


Claudia Steurer-Stey, Kaba Dallalana, Marc Jungi, Thomas Rosemann

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