Researchers have developed a screening tool to help primary care physicians identify chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The tool, referred to as CAPTURE, was able to identify roughly half of primary care patients with COPD that could benefit from available treatments. The results of the study, spearheaded by researchers at National Jewish Health and their colleagues, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that affects an estimated 5% of the population. Roughly half of the people living with COPD in the United States are undiagnosed, and many have severe disease when they are finally diagnosed. Undiagnosed patients experience poor health and a risk of acute respiratory events, hospitalization, and mortality. Earlier diagnosis and treatment intervention can slow the progression of COPD and potentially prevent the disease.

“There are national guidelines on how often mammograms and other lifesaving screenings should be done, but there are no recommended tools for COPD screening. “The CAPTURE questionnaire will help physicians screen for COPD,” says Barry Make, MD, co-director of the COPD program at National Jewish Health and co-senior author of the study.

For the study, patients without prior COPD diagnosis were enrolled in primary care networks across the U.S. All patients were asked five questions. In patients with intermediate scores, peak flow was measured.  “We wanted to identify not just COPD, but clinically significant COPD,” says Make.

“This is a necessary step to help narrow the gap in the number of undiagnosed COPD patients,” Make continued. “Primary care is a key setting to establish this disease, as it represents patients with less severe disease and diverse and rural populations.”

Fernando Martinez, MD, chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and a co-lead in the study, added, “Our group has confirmed that a simple approach can identify patients with significant respiratory burden in primary care, particularly those with undiagnosed COPD for whom effective therapies are available. Moreover, it shows the robust nature of this collaborative relationship between numerous stakeholders, particularly primary care-based research networks.”