Clinicians report multiple barriers preventing the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but attitudes toward the therapeutic benefits of medications and pulmonary rehabilitation have improved, according to research published in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases.

Barbara P. Yawn, MD, MSc, Olmstead Medical Center, Department of Research, Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a survey study of 436 clinician participants from 3 regional continuing medical education (CME) programs; each program included a 60- to 90- minute presentation on COPD. The researchers aimed to compare responses to a similar 2007 assessment.

In total, 436 surveys were completed (278 MD or doctor of osteopathic medicine [DO] respondents and 148 nurse practitioner [NP] and physician assistant [PA] respondents). Half of the respondents indicated both awareness and use of existing COPD guidelines (49.9% MD/DO versus 46% NP/PA); the remaining clinicians (31.7% and 27%, respectively) indicated a lack of awareness or use of guidelines for COPD. All other clinicians reported awareness of COPD guidelines, but did not use them in daily practice.

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“The most striking difference between 2007 and 2013/2014 responses was the marked increase in beliefs by all clinicians in the ability of COPD treatments to reduce symptoms and numbers of exacerbations,” noted Dr Yawn. “These data affirm that primary care clinicians continue to report multiple barriers to COPD diagnosis, including lack of easy access to spirometry and frequent failure to include spirometry in diagnostic confirmation.”


  1. Yawn B, Wollan PC, Textor KB, et al. Primary care physicians’, nurse practitioners’ and physician assistants’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding COPD: 2007 to 2014. Chron Obstr Pulm Dis. 2016;3(3):628-635: doi: 10.15326/jcopdf.3.3.2015.0168