Researchers at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, came up with some surprising results during a trial of patients with asthma and COPD. The year-long trial compared more than 250 patients from 31 general practices who were regularly being tested using spirometry with patients receiving usual care.

Existing guidelines encourage regular monitoring, but Michael Abramson, BMedSc, PhD, lead author of the study, disagreed, saying, “We found that the recommended regular 3-month spirometry and medical review made little difference to quality of life, respiratory symptoms, asthma attacks, written asthma action plans, or health care service use in patients with asthma and/or COPD.”

He stressed that spirometry is a critical tool in the diagnosis of COPD and asthma, but added that this study questions its effectiveness in helping to manage patients who already have the condition. He added that he does not recommend more widespread use of spirometry in general practice, although there is a role for spirometry as a “gold standard” to establish the diagnosis.

“My recommendation to patients with COPD and asthma,” Abramson says, “is to continue their regular visits to their doctor not necessarily to undergo spirometry testing every time, but to ensure their medication can be reviewed and to maintain general health.”

Source: Monash University