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1.  Accuracy of symptoms, signs, and C-reactive protein for early chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
The British Journal of General Practice  2012;62(602):e632-e638.
Background
Guidelines recommend detection of early chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but evidence on the diagnostic work-up for COPD only concerns advanced and established COPD.
Aim
To quantify the accuracy of symptoms and signs for early COPD, and the added value of C-reactive protein (CRP), in primary care patients presenting with cough.
Design and setting
Cross-sectional diagnostic study of 73 primary care practices in the Netherlands
Method
Four hundred primary care patients (182 males, mean age 63 years) older than 50 years, presenting with persistent cough (>14 days) without established COPD participated, of whom 382 completed the study. They underwent a systematic diagnostic work-up of symptoms, signs, conventional laboratory CRP level, and hospital lung functions tests, including body plethysmography, and an expert panel decided whether COPD was present (reference test). The independent value of all items was estimated by multivariable logistic regression analysis.
Results
According to the expert panel, 118 patients had COPD (30%). Symptoms and signs with independent diagnostic value were age, sex, current smoking, smoking more than 20 pack-years, cardiovascular comorbidity, wheezing complaints, diminished breath sounds, and wheezing on auscultation. Combining these items resulted in an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC area) of 0.79 (95% confidence interval = 0.74 to 0.83) after internal validation. The proportion of subjects with elevated CRP was higher in those with early COPD, but CRP added no relevant diagnostic information above symptoms and signs.
Conclusion
In subjects presenting with persistent cough, the CRP level has no added value for detection of early COPD.
doi:10.3399/bjgp12X654605
PMCID: PMC3426602  PMID: 22947584
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; C-reactive protein; diagnosis; general practice
3.  Undetected chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma in people over 50 years with persistent cough 
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are underdiagnosed in primary care.
Aim
To determine how often COPD or asthma are present in middle-aged and older patients who consult their GP for persistent cough.
Design of study
A cross-sectional study in 353 patients older than 50 years, visiting their GP for persistent cough and not known to have COPD or asthma.
Setting
General practice in the Netherlands.
Method
All participants underwent extensive diagnostic work-up, including symptoms, signs, spirometry, and body plethysmography. All results were studied by an expert panel to diagnose or exclude COPD and/or asthma. The reproducibility of the panel diagnosis was assessed by calculation of Cohen's κ statistic in a sample of 41 participants.
Results
Of the 353 participants, 102 (29%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 24 to 34%) were diagnosed with COPD. In 14 of these 102 participants, both COPD and asthma were diagnosed (4%, 95% CI = 2 to 7%). Asthma (without COPD) was diagnosed in 23 (7%, 95% CI = 4 to 10%) participants. Mean duration of cough was 93 days (median 40 days). The reproducibility of the expert panel was good (Cohen's κ = 0.90).
Conclusion
In patients aged over 50 years who consult their GP for persistent cough, undetected COPD or asthma is frequently present.
doi:10.3399/bjgp10X514738
PMCID: PMC2894377  PMID: 20594438
asthma; cough; COPD; early diagnosis
4.  Quality of life in smokers: focus on functional limitations rather than on lung function? 
Background
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) classification of severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is based solely on obstruction and does not capture physical functioning. The hypothesis that the Medical Research Council (MRC) dyspnoea scale would correlate better with quality of life than the level of airflow limitation was examined.
Aim
To study the associations between quality of life in smokers and limitations in physical functioning (MRC dyspnoea scale) and, quality of life and airflow limitation (GOLD COPD stages).
Design
Cross-sectional study.
Setting
The city of IJsselstein, a small town in the centre of The Netherlands.
Method
Male smokers aged 40–65 years without a prior diagnosis of COPD and enlisted with a general practice, participated in this study. Quality of life was assessed by means of a generic (SF–36) and a disease-specific, questionnaire (QOLRIQ).
Results
A total of 395 subjects (mean age 55.4 years, pack years 27.1) performed adequate spirometry and completed the questionnaires. Limitations of physical functioning according to the MRC dyspnoea scale were found in 25.1 % (99/395) of the participants and airflow limitation in 40.2% (159/395). The correlations of limitations of physical functioning with all quality-of-life components were stronger than the correlations of all quality-of-life subscales with the severity of airflow limitation.
Conclusion
In middle-aged smokers the correlation of limitations of physical functioning (MRC dyspnoea scale) with quality of life was stronger than the correlation of the severity of airflow limitation with quality of life. Future staging systems of severity of COPD should capture this and not rely on forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) alone.
PMCID: PMC2078172  PMID: 17550673
dyspnoea; FEV1; middle-aged; FEV1; quality of life; smokers
5.  Incidence and determinants of moderate COPD (GOLD II) in male smokers aged 40–65 years: 5-year follow up 
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major health problem with an estimated prevalence of 10–15% among smokers. The incidence of moderate COPD, as defined by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), is largely unknown.
Aim
To determine the cumulative incidence of moderate COPD (forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity ratio [FEV1/FVC] <0.7 and FEV1 <80% predicted) and its association with patient characteristics in a cohort of male smokers.
Design
Prospective cohort study.
Setting
The city of IJsselstein, a small town in the Netherlands.
Method
Smokers aged 40–65 years who were registered with local GPs, participated in a study to identify undetected COPD. Baseline measurements were taken in 1998 of 399 smokers with normal spirometry (n = 292) or mild COPD (FEV1/FVC <0.7 and FEV1 ≥80% predicted, n = 107) and follow-up measurements were conducted in 2003.
Results
After a mean follow-up of 5.2 years, 33 participants developed moderate COPD (GOLD II). This showed an estimated cumulative incidence of 8.3% (95% CI = 5.8 to 11.4) and a mean annual incidence of 1.6%. No participant developed severe airflow obstruction. The risk of developing moderate COPD in smokers with baseline mild COPD (GOLD I) was five times higher than in those with baseline normal spirometry (one in five versus one in 25).
Conclusions
In a cohort of middle-aged male smokers, the estimated cumulative incidence of moderate COPD (GOLD II) over 5 years was relatively high (8.3%). Age, childhood smoking, cough, and one or more GP contacts for lower respiratory tract problems were independently associated with incident moderate COPD.
PMCID: PMC1876630  PMID: 16953996
incidence; middle-age; moderate COPD; patient characteristics; smokers
6.  Chest radiography in general practice: indications, diagnostic yield and consequences for patient management 
Background
Chest radiography (CXR) is frequently performed in Western societies. There is insufficient knowledge of its diagnostic value in terms of changes in patient management decisions in primary care.
Aim
To assess the influence of CXR on patient management in general practice.
Design of study
Prospective cohort study.
Setting
Seventy-eight GPs and three general hospitals in the Netherlands.
Method
Patients (n = 792) aged ≥18 years referred by their GPs for CXR were included. The main outcome was change in patient management assessed by means of questionnaires filled in by GPs before and after CXR.
Results
Mean age of the patients was 57.3±16.2 years and 53% were male. Clinically relevant abnormalities were found in 24% of the CXRs. Patient management changed in 60% of the patients following CXR. Main changes included: fewer referrals to a medical specialist (from 26 to 12%); reduction in initiation or change in therapy (from 24 to 15%); and more frequent reassurance (from 25 to 46%). However, this reassurance was not perceived as such in a quarter of these patients. A change in patient management occurred significantly more frequently in patients with complaints of cough (67%), those who exhibited abnormalities during physical examination (69%), or those with a suspected diagnosis of pneumonia (68%).
Conclusion
Patient management by the GP changed in 60% of patients following CXR. CXR substantially reduced the number of referrals and initiation or change in therapy, and more patients were reassured by their GP. Thus, CXR is an important diagnostic tool for GPs and seems a cost-effective diagnostic test.
PMCID: PMC1874520  PMID: 16882374
chest radiography; general practice; patient care management

Results 1-6 (6)