A study voted this year's RCGP research paper of the year (2008) and presented at a ‘showcase' session of the best oral papers at the RCGP annual conference, showed that awareness of lung age improved the likelihood of a quit.
Dr Gary Parkes, a GP in Hoddesdon, Herts and co-author of the study said: ‘Giving lung age to smokers improves quit rates. The intervention can be offered to all smokers.'
When asked whether GPs, as a change in practice, should be giving FEV1 measurements to their patients in the form of lung age, he said: ‘In current smokers, the answer is yes.'
The study recruited 561 patients, who were assessed using spirometry and given the results either as ‘lung age' or as an FEV1 measurement (control). At 12-month follow-up, 13.6 per cent of those given their lung age had quit, compared with 6.4 per cent of controls.
A pilot study presented at the same session described a ‘telehealthcare' system that enabled COPD patients to send physiological and symptom data over the internet.
Trained call centre personnel then reviewed the results and contacted the practice if scores were high.
The 28 patients involved in the study felt supported by the technology, and while the system was also broadly popular with the GPs involved, there were concerns about increased workload and false positives.
Workload was found to rise, mainly due to extra telephone calls. In addition, prescribing of antibiotics and steroids rose.