Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Use of spirometry and recording of smoking habits of COPD patients increased in primary health care during national COPD programme

Tuula Vasankari12*, Anne Pietinalho1, Kalle Lertola3, Seppo YT Junnila4 and Kari Liippo1

Author Affiliations

1 Finnish Lung Health Association, Sibeliuksenkatu 11 A 1, FI-00250 Helsinki Finland

2 Department of Respiratory Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Paimio Hospital, Alvar Aallon tie 275, FI-21540 Preitilä Finland

3 Turku University, FI-20014 Turun Yliopisto, Finland

4 Salo Healthcare Center, Sairaalantie 9, FI-24130 Salo, Finland

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BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:97  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-97

Published: 21 September 2011



In Finland, a national programme for COPD prevention and treatment was developed in 1998. The main goals of the programme were to diagnose COPD as early as possible and to encourage people to quit smoking. The role of primary health care was emphasized in the programme. Our aim was to investigate the use of spirometry and recording of smoking habits of COPD patients in primary health care before and during the COPD programme.


We compared patients with respiratory symptoms or diseases visiting primary health care during 1997 (before programme) and 2002 (during programme). Patients with respiratory symptoms were divided into two groups: COPD patients and "others". Patient records were thoroughly investigated and data retrieved from them.


There was a significant increase in the whole study group from 8.0% to 38.9% in the use of spirometry (p < 0.001). This increase was significant both in the COPD group (from 32.0% to 79.6%, p < 0.001) and "others" (from 5.6% to 32.8%, p < 0.001). Written information on smoking habits in patient records increased from 16.6% of all patients in 1997 to 53.2% in 2002 (p < 0.001), and in COPD group from 45.0% to 84.3% (p < 0.001).


We observed a significant increase in the use of spirometry and knowledge of smoking habits in COPD patients, which may be a result of the Finnish national COPD programme.

COPD; diagnosis; primary healthcare; respiratory symptoms; spirometry; smoking