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1.  Pneumocafé project: an inquiry on current COPD diagnosis and management among General Practitioners in Italy through a novel tool for professional education 
Background
Symptoms of COPD are frequently disregarded by patients and also by general practitioners (GPs) in early stages of the disease, that consequently is diagnosed when already at an advanced grade of severity. Underdiagnosis and undertreatment of COPD and scarce use of spirometry are widely recurrent, while a better knowledge of the disease and a wider use of spirometry would be critical to diagnose more patients still neglected, do it at an earlier stage and properly treat established COPD. The aim of Pneumocafè project is to improve, through an innovative approach, the diagnosis and management of COPD at primary care level increasing the awareness of issues pertaining to early diagnosis, adequate prevention and correct treatment of the disease.
Methods
Pneumocafè is based on informal meetings between GPs of various geographical zones of Italy and their reference respiratory specialist (RS), aimed at discussing the current practice in comparison to suggestions of official guidelines, analyzing the actual problems in diagnosing and managing COPD patients and sharing the possible solution at the community level. In these meetings RSs faced many issues including patho-physiological mechanisms of bronchial obstruction, significance of clinical symptoms, patients’ phenotyping, and clinical approach to diagnosis and long-term treatment, also reinforcing the importance of a timely diagnosis, proper long term treatment and the compliance to treatment. At the end of each meeting GPs had to fill in a questionnaire arranged by the scientific board of the Project that included 18 multiple-choice questions concerning their approach to COPD management. The results of the analysis of these questionnaires are here presented.
Results
1, 964 questionnaires were returned from 49 RSs. 1,864 questionnaires out of those received (94.91% of the total) resulted properly compiled and form the object of the present analysis. The 49 RSs, 37 males and 12 females, were distributed all over the Italian country and practiced their profession both in public and private hospitals and in territorial sanitary facilities. GPs were 1,330 males (71.35%) and 534 females (28.64%), mean age 56,29 years (range 27-70 yrs). Mean duration of general practice was 25.56 years (range: 0,5-40 yrs) with a mean of 1,302.43 patients assisted by each GP and 2,427,741 patients assisted in all. The majority of GPs affirmed that in their patients COPD has a mean-to-great prevalence and a mean/high impact on their practice, preceded only by diabetes and heart failure. Three-quarters of GPs refer to COPD guidelines and most of them believe that a screening on their assisted patients at risk would enhance early diagnosis of COPD. Tobacco smoking is the main recognized cause of COPD but the actions carried out by GPs to help a patient to give up smoking result still insufficient. The majority of GPs recognize spirometry as necessary to early COPD diagnosis, but the main obstacle pointed out to its wider use was the too long time for the spirometry to be performed. GPs’ main reason for prescribing a bronchodilator is dyspnea and bronchodilators preferably prescribed are LABA and LAMA. Control of patient’s adherence to therapy is mainly carried out by GPs checking the number of drugs annually prescribed or asking the patient during a control visit. Finally, about how many COPD patients GPs believe are in their group of assisted patients, a mean range of 25-40 patients was reported, that is consistently below the forecast based on epidemiological data and number of patients assisted by each GP.
Conclusions
The results obtained with this project confirm the validity of this informal approach to professional education. Furthermore, this inquiry provided important insights about the general management of COPD and the process of integration between RS and GPs activities on this disease condition in the long run.
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-9-35
PMCID: PMC4061438
COPD diagnosis; Early diagnosis; General practice; GPs; Respiratory specialist; Spirometry
2.  AIMAR survey on COPD phenotypes 
Background
COPD is characterized by considerable diversity in terms of clinical signs and symptoms, physiopathological mechanisms, response to treatment and disease progression. For this reason, the identification of different patient subgroups (or possible phenotypes) is important both for prognosis and for therapeutic objectives. Based on the foregoing, AIMAR has decided to conduct a survey on the perception of the prevalence of the different clinical COPD phenotypes/subtypes in the clinical practice of physicians who treat patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and on their therapeutic objectives.
Methods
The survey consisted of 19 multiple-choice questions, compiled through a form published online. All the data and answers entered into the system were checked for consistency and completeness directly online at the time they were entered, and each respondent could only complete the questionnaire once.
Results
The survey took place from May through October 2012. A total of 1,434 questionnaires (60% of the sample approached) were eligible for analysis, broken down as follows: 537 pulmonologists, 666 general practitioners (GPs), 72 internal medicine specialists, 36 allergists, 30 geriatricians, 93 other specialists. The results show that a significant proportion of GPs (33%) identified more than 50 patients in their practices with a diagnosis of COPD. Although most patients are or have been in treatment with a long-acting bronchodilator, the most common reasons for seeing a GP or a specialist were exacerbations and worsening of the symptoms, suggesting the importance of an appropriate background therapy in order to reduce the risk of disease instability. The frequent exacerbator phenotype was the most commonly found phenotype in clinical practice (by 75% of specialists and 66% of GPs); patients with a prevalent phenotype of chronic bronchitis were reported more often by GPs, while specialists reported a higher number of patients with a prevalent phenotype of emphysema.
A medical history of exacerbations and the extent of deterioration of the spirometry parameters were considered to be the major indicators for COPD severity and clinical risk. In managing the frequent exacerbator phenotype, the therapeutic objectives – both for GPs and for specialists – included reducing airway inflammation, improving bronchial dilation, and reducing pulmonary hyperinflation. For this type of patients at high clinical risk, specialists selected a first-line therapeutic option based on a predetermined combination of an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and a long-acting β2-agonist bronchodilator (LABA) and a second-line three-drug therapy (combination of ICS and two long-acting bronchodilators), while GPs’ choices are more diversified, without a clear-cut prevalence of one type of treatment. In patients with COPD and concomitant cardiovascular diseases, frequently observed in clinical practice by all physicians, the combination of ICS and LABA was considered the first-choice option by the highest proportion of GPs (43%) and specialists (37%), while a smaller number of specialists (35%) opted for the long acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA). Both GPs and specialists believe that therapeutic continuity is of primary importance for the achievement of clinical outcomes with all classes of drugs.
Conclusions
A good knowledge of COPD has been observed in a high percentage of GPs, indicating an increased awareness of this disease in Primary Health Care. The frequent exacerbator phenotype is viewed by all physicians as the most prevalent in clinical practice, bearing a high risk of hospitalization. For specialists, therapeutic measures aimed at reducing the number and severity of exacerbations are primarily based on the combination of inhaled corticosteroid and bronchodilator, presumably because of the complementary pharmacological action of its components, whereas while GPs’ choices tend to be more diversified. Adherence to medication regimens is of the essence for the achievement of clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-9-16
PMCID: PMC3994894  PMID: 24635848
COPD; Exacerbations; Online survey; Phenotypes
3.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2013 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine would like to thank all of our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 8 (2013).
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-9-4
PMCID: PMC3906742  PMID: 24475757
4.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2012 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of Mutlidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine would like to thank all of our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 7 (2012).
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-8-6
PMCID: PMC3602022  PMID: 23369543
5.  Rationale for the Turin Conference/Congress 2012 
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-7-1
PMCID: PMC3415118  PMID: 22958324
7.  Outpatient vs. home-based pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD: a randomized controlled trial 
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common cause of morbidity and mortality affecting a large number of individuals in both developed and developing countries and it represents a significant financial burden for patients, families and society. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a multidisciplinary program that integrates components of exercise training, education, nutritional support, psychological support and self-care, resulting in an improvement in dyspnea, fatigue and quality of life. Despite its proven effectiveness and the strong scientific recommendations for its routine use in the care of COPD, PR is generally underutilized and strategies for increasing access to PR are needed. Home-based self-monitored pulmonary rehabilitation is an alternative to outpatient rehabilitation. In the present study, patients with mild, moderate and severe COPD submitted to either an outpatient or at-home PR program for 12 weeks were analyzed.
Methods
Patients who fulfilled the inclusion criteria were randomized into three distinct groups: an outpatient group who performed all activities at the clinic, a home-based group who performed the activities at home and a control group. PR consisted of a combination of aerobic exercises and strengthening of upper and lower limbs 3 times a week for 12 weeks.
Results
There was a significant difference in the distance covered on the six-minute walk test (p < 0.05) and BODE index (p < 0.001) in the outpatient and at-home groups after participating in the rehabilitation program compared to baseline.
Conclusion
A home-based self-monitoring pulmonary rehabilitation program is as effective as outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation and is a valid alternative for the management of patients with COPD.
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-5-6-401
PMCID: PMC3463054  PMID: 22958267
COPD; home-based pulmonary rehabilitation; pulmonary rehabilitation
10.  Clinical significance in COPD patients followed in a real practice 
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an important public health issue in many countries which is estimated to become the fifth cause of disability and the third cause of mortality in the world within 2020.
The objective of this study was to identify the clinical characteristics in the real clinical practice of a sample of patients with COPD followed in a pulmonology clinic.
Methods
The initial sample contained 207 subjects with respiratory claims that searched for specialized treatment and initiated regular monitoring between 2004 and 2009 in a private clinic localized in Cascavel, in the state of Parana, Brazil. Demographic data (weight, height, body mass index - BMI), history of comorbidities, use of respiratory and non respiratory drugs were also registered.
Results
The main cause related to the development of COPD was current or prior smoking (92.0%); the most frequently reported symptom was dyspnea (95.0%), followed by cough (86.1%), wheezing (69.4%) and sputum production (40.0%). During the follow up, 51 patients developed the need for oxygen therapy (28.3%). In 96 patients, there were periods of acute exacerbation, resulting in 37 hospitalizations. In addition to COPD, a significant number of comorbidities were identified, being cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders the most prevalent ones.
Conclusions
Based on the data collected, we could outline the profile of patients with COPD, showing characteristics of an elderly population, with multiple comorbidities, suggesting a health related quality of life lower than expected.
doi:10.1186/2049-6958-8-43
PMCID: PMC3706245  PMID: 23806051
COPD; Dyspnea; Smoking
11.  Multistudy Fine Mapping of Chromosome 2q Identifies XRCC5 as a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Susceptibility Gene 
Rationale: Several family-based studies have identified genetic linkage for lung function and airflow obstruction to chromosome 2q.
Objectives: We hypothesized that merging results of high-resolution single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping in four separate populations would lead to the identification of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) susceptibility genes on chromosome 2q.
Methods: Within the chromosome 2q linkage region, 2,843 SNPs were genotyped in 806 COPD cases and 779 control subjects from Norway, and 2,484 SNPs were genotyped in 309 patients with severe COPD from the National Emphysema Treatment Trial and 330 community control subjects. Significant associations from the combined results across the two case-control studies were followed up in 1,839 individuals from 603 families from the International COPD Genetics Network (ICGN) and in 949 individuals from 127 families in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study.
Measurements and Main Results: Merging the results of the two case-control analyses, 14 of the 790 overlapping SNPs had a combined P < 0.01. Two of these 14 SNPs were consistently associated with COPD in the ICGN families. The association with one SNP, located in the gene XRCC5, was replicated in the Boston Early-Onset COPD Study, with a combined P = 2.51 × 10−5 across the four studies, which remains significant when adjusted for multiple testing (P = 0.02). Genotype imputation confirmed the association with SNPs in XRCC5.
Conclusions: By combining data from COPD genetic association studies conducted in four independent patient samples, we have identified XRCC5, an ATP-dependent DNA helicase, as a potential COPD susceptibility gene.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200910-1586OC
PMCID: PMC2937234  PMID: 20463177
emphysema; genetic linkage; metaanalysis; single nucleotide polymorphism

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