Open Access Research article

Evaluation of Current Knowledge, Awareness and Practice of Spirometry among Hospital -based Nigerian Doctors

Olufemi O Desalu1*, Olusegun A Busari2, Cajetan C Onyedum3, Fatai K Salawu4, Olusegun A Obateru1, Kelechukwu C Nwogu5 and Alakija K Salami1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Ilorin, Nigeria

2 Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre Ido-Ekiti, Nigeria

3 Department of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu, Nigeria

4 Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Nigeria

5 Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre Birnin Kebbi, Nigeria

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2009, 9:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-9-50

Published: 14 December 2009



Spirometry is a cost-effective diagnostic tool for evaluation of lung function and for case-finding in a resource-limited setting. The acceptance of this test depends on the awareness of its indications and the ability to interpret the results. No studies have assessed the knowledge of spirometry among Nigerian doctors. The aim of this study was to evaluate the current knowledge, awareness and practice of spirometry among hospital-based Nigerian doctors.


We carried out a cross-sectional survey among 321 doctors working in Nigerian hospitals between March 2008 and June 2008. Information on knowledge, awareness, practice of and barriers to spirometry were obtained using a pre-tested, self-administered structured questionnaire and the data were then analysed.


Of the 321 doctors that participated, 108 (33.6%) reported that they have good knowledge of spirometry. One hundred and ninety-five (60.7%) were aware of the importance of spirometry in aiding the diagnosis of respiratory diseases; 213(66.4%) were aware of the importance of spirometry in determining the severity of diseases. Medical school was the most common source of knowledge on spirometry (64.5%). Eighty-one (25.2%) doctors reported having a spirometer in their hospitals. Doctors having access to a spirometer used it more frequently for aiding the diagnosis of COPD (40.7% vs.27.5%) and for monitoring of asthma (18.5% vs.11.3%) than those without access to a spirometer. The doctors working in University Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres (FMC) (22.4% vs. 4.5%) and those having access to a spirometer (40.7 vs.11.3%) were very confident of interpreting spirometry results compared to those working in District and General Hospitals and without access to a spirometer. Irrespective of access to a spirometer or the type of hospital they were employed in, doctors reported that unavailability of a spirometer was the greatest barrier to its use (62.5%) followed by lack of awareness about its usefulness (17.2%).


The knowledge and practice of spirometry were poor among hospital-based Nigerian doctors because of unavailability of spirometers in most hospitals. These findings have implications for further evaluation, planning and management of patient care in respiratory disease. Spirometers should be made available in all hospitals, and the knowledge of spirometry should be improved among doctors.