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1.  Spirometry in primary care: An analysis of spirometry test quality in a regional primary care asthma program 
BACKGROUND:
Primary care office spirometry can improve access to testing and concordance between clinical practice and asthma guidelines. Compliance with test quality standards is essential to implementation.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the quality of spirometry performed onsite in a regional primary care asthma program (RAP) by health care professionals with limited training.
METHODS:
Asthma educators were trained to perform spirometry during two 2 h workshops and supervised during up to six patient encounters. Quality was analyzed using American Thoracic Society (ATS) 1994 and ATS/European Respiratory Society (ERS) 2003 (ATS/ERS) standards. These results were compared with two regional reference sites: a primary care group practice (Family Medical Centre [FMC], Windsor, Ontario) and a teaching hospital pulmonary function laboratory (London Health Sciences Centre [LHSC], London, Ontario).
RESULTS:
A total of 12,815 flow-volume loops (FVL) were evaluated: RAP – 1606 FVL in 472 patient sessions; reference sites – FMC 4013 FVL in 573 sessions; and LHSC – 7196 in 1151 sessions. RAP: There were three acceptable FVL in 392 of 472 (83%) sessions, two reproducible FVL according to ATS criteria in 428 of 469 (91%) sessions, and 395 of 469 (84%) according to ATS/ERS criteria. All quality criteria – minimum of three acceptable and two reproducible FVL according to ATS criteria in 361 of 472 (77%) sessions and according to ATS/ERS criteria in 337 of 472 (71%) sessions. RAP met ATS criteria more often than the FMC (388 of 573 [68%]); however, less often than LHSC (1050 of 1151 [91%]; P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS:
Health care providers with limited training and experience operating within a simple quality program achieved ATS/ERS quality spirometry in the majority of sessions in a primary care setting. The quality performance approached pulmonary function laboratory standards.
PMCID: PMC3411389  PMID: 22891184
Asthma; Laboratory; Spirometry
2.  Hyperpolarized 3He functional magnetic resonance imaging of bronchoscopic airway bypass in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
A 73-year-old exsmoker with Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage III chronic obstructive pulmonary disease underwent airway bypass (AB) as part of the Exhale Airway Stents for Emphysema (EASE) trial, and was the only EASE subject to undergo hyperpolarized 3He magnetic resonance imaging for evaluation of lung function pre- and post-AB. 3He magnetic resonance imaging was acquired twice previously (32 and eight months pre-AB) and twice post-AB (six and 12 months post-AB). Six months post-AB, his increase in forced vital capacity was <12% predicted, and he was classified as an AB nonresponder. However, post-AB, he also demonstrated improvements in quality of life scores, 6 min walk distance and improvements in 3He gas distribution in the regions of stent placement. Given the complex relationship between well-established pulmonary function and quality of life measurements, the present case provides evidence of the value-added information functional imaging may provide in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease interventional studies.
PMCID: PMC3299053  PMID: 22332133
Airway bypass; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Hyperpolarized 3He magnetic resonance imaging
3.  The Air Quality Health Index and Asthma Morbidity: A Population-Based Study 
Background: Exposure to air pollution has been linked to the exacerbation of respiratory diseases. The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), developed in Canada, is a new health risk scale for reporting air quality and advising risk reduction actions.
Objective: We used the AQHI to estimate the impact of air quality on asthma morbidity, adjusting for potential confounders.
Methods: Daily air pollutant measures were obtained from 14 regional monitoring stations in Ontario. Daily counts of asthma-attributed hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and outpatient visits were obtained from a provincial registry of 1.5 million patients with asthma. Poisson regression was used to estimate health services rate ratios (RRs) as a measure of association between the AQHI or individual pollutants and health services use. We adjusted for age, sex, season, year, and region of residence.
Results: The AQHI values were significantly associated with increased use of asthma health services on the same day and on the 2 following days, depending on the specific outcome assessed. A 1-unit increase in the AQHI was associated with a 5.6% increase in asthma outpatient visits (RR = 1.056; 95% CI: 1.053, 1.058) and a 2.1% increase in the rate of hospitalization (RR = 1.021; 95% CI: 1.014, 1.028) on the same day and with a 1.3% increase in the rate of ED visits (RR = 1.013; 95% CI: 1.010, 1.017) after a 2-day lag.
Conclusions: The AQHI values were significantly associated with the use of asthma-related health services. Timely AQHI health risk advisories with integrated risk reduction messages may reduce morbidity associated with air pollution in patients with asthma.
doi:10.1289/ehp.1104816
PMCID: PMC3546347  PMID: 23060364
air pollution; air quality health index; asthma; health services utilization
4.  Using a knowledge translation framework to implement asthma clinical practice guidelines in primary care 
Quality problem
International guidelines establish evidence-based standards for asthma care; however, recommendations are often not implemented and many patients do not meet control targets.
Initial assessment
Regional pilot data demonstrated a knowledge-to-practice gap.
Choice of solutions
We engineered health system change in a multi-step approach described by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research knowledge translation framework.
Implementation
Knowledge translation occurred at multiple levels: patient, practice and local health system. A regional administrative infrastructure and inter-disciplinary care teams were developed. The key project deliverable was a guideline-based interdisciplinary asthma management program. Six community organizations, 33 primary care physicians and 519 patients participated. The program operating cost was $290/patient.
Evaluation
Six guideline-based care elements were implemented, including spirometry measurement, asthma controller therapy, a written self-management action plan and general asthma education, including the inhaler device technique, role of medications and environmental control strategies in 93, 95, 86, 100, 97 and 87% of patients, respectively. Of the total patients 66% were adults, 61% were female, the mean age was 35.7 (SD = ±24.2) years. At baseline 42% had two or more symptoms beyond acceptable limits vs. 17% (P< 0.001) post-intervention; 71% reported urgent/emergent healthcare visits at baseline (2.94 visits/year) vs. 45% (1.45 visits/year) (P< 0.001); 39% reported absenteeism (5.0 days/year) vs. 19% (3.0 days/year) (P< 0.001). The mean follow-up interval was 22 (SD = ±7) months.
Lessons learned
A knowledge-translation framework can guide multi-level organizational change, facilitate asthma guideline implementation, and improve health outcomes in community primary care practices. Program costs are similar to those of diabetes programs. Program savings offset costs in a ratio of 2.1:1
doi:10.1093/intqhc/mzs043
PMCID: PMC3441097  PMID: 22893665
asthma; guideline adherence; implementation; knowledge translation; patient education as topic; primary care

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