Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: NPJ primary care respiratory medicine


Perceptions of asthma control often vary between patients and physicians. This cross-sectional survey provided UK-specific data on actual and perceived asthma control in patients (18-75 years) attending routine asthma reviews in primary, secondary and tertiary settings. Differences between healthcare professionals' (HCP) and patients' perceptions of asthma control were evaluated via an online questionnaire and compared to a control-the validated asthma control test (ACT)-which patients completed. Treated patients (at least a short acting ß-agonist) with a documented diagnosis of asthma were enroled and consented within a month of their last appointment. Patients were grouped according to the British Thoracic Society (BTS)/Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) 2014 treatment guidelines (BTS/SIGN steps 1-5). A total of 260 patients were screened: 234 were eligible for enrolment: 33, 52, 50, 49 and 50 patients in steps 1-5, respectively. Seventy per cent (164) were women. The percentage of patients aged 45-64 years was 47.4%. HCPs classed 70% (164) as non-smokers. 84.2% of patients and 73.9% of HCPs perceived that asthma was controlled but ACT results suggest that asthma was only controlled in 54.7% of patients (ACT score ≥20). Patients in steps 4 and 5 had the highest levels of uncontrolled asthma. Correct agreement between ACT score with perceptions of controlled or uncontrolled asthma occurred in 67.9% of patients and 68.8% of HCPs; the poorest levels of agreement occurred in patients in steps 4 and 5. Uncontrolled asthma is common in UK patients. High proportions of patients and HCPs have incorrect perceptions of asthma control, especially in relation to patients with asthma in steps 4 and 5.

Concepts: Research methods, Patient, Health care provider, Cross-sectional analysis, United Kingdom, Cross-sectional study, Control


As cannabis use increases, physicians need to be familiar with the effects of both cannabis and tobacco on the lungs. However, there have been very few long-term studies of cannabis smoking, mostly due to legality issues and the confounding effects of tobacco. It was previously thought that cannabis and tobacco had similar long-term effects as both cause chronic bronchitis. However, recent large studies have shown that, instead of reducing forced expiratory volume in 1 s and forced vital capacity (FVC), marijuana smoking is associated with increased FVC. The cause of this is unclear, but acute bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis may be relevant. Bullous lung disease, barotrauma and cannabis smoking have been recognised in case reports and small series. More work is needed to address the effects of cannabis on lung function, imaging and histological changes.

Concepts: Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabis, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Vaporizer, Pulmonology, Spirometry, Asthma, Respiratory physiology


Background:We introduced domiciliary intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy in patients with bronchiectasis to promote patient-centred domiciliary treatment instead of hospital inpatient treatment.Aim:To assess the efficacy and safety of domiciliary IV antibiotic therapy in patients with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis.Methods:In this prospective study conducted over 5 years, we assessed patients' eligibility for receiving domiciliary treatment. All patients received 14 days of IV antibiotic therapy and were monitored at baseline/day 7/day 14. We assessed the treatment outcome, morbidity, mortality and 30-day readmission rates.Results:A total of 116 patients received 196 courses of IV antibiotics. Eighty courses were delivered as inpatient treatment, 32 as early supported discharge (ESD) and 84 as domiciliary therapy. There was significant clinical and quality of life improvement in all groups, with resolution of infection in 76% in the inpatient group, 80% in the ESD group and 80% in the domiciliary group. Morbidity was recorded in 13.8% in the inpatient group, 9.4% in the ESD group and 14.2% in the domiciliary IV group. No mortality was recorded in either group. Thirty-day readmission rates were 13.8% in the inpatient group, 12.5% in the ESD group and 14.2% in the domiciliary group. Total bed days saved was 1443.Conclusion:Domiciliary IV antibiotic therapy in bronchiectasis is clinically effective and was safe in our cohort of patients.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Bacteria, Cohort study, Phage therapy, Medicine, Antibiotics, Clinical trial, Antibiotic


Pulmonary rehabilitation has short-term benefits on dyspnea, exercise capacity and quality of life in COPD, but evidence suggests these do not always translate to increased daily physical activity on a patient level. This is attributed to a limited understanding of the determinants of physical activity maintenance following pulmonary rehabilitation. This systematic review of qualitative research was conducted to understand COPD patients' perceived facilitators and barriers to physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation. Electronic databases of published data, non-published data, and trial registers were searched to identify qualitative studies (interviews, focus groups) reporting the facilitators and barriers to physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation for people with COPD. Thematic synthesis of qualitative data was adopted involving line-by-line coding of the findings of the included studies, development of descriptive themes, and generation of analytical themes. Fourteen studies including 167 COPD patients met the inclusion criteria. Seven sub-themes were identified as influential to physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation. These included: intentions, self-efficacy, feedback of capabilities and improvements, relationship with health care professionals, peer interaction, opportunities following pulmonary rehabilitation and routine. These encapsulated the facilitators and barriers to physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation and were identified as sub-themes within the three analytical themes, which were beliefs, social support, and the environment. The findings highlight the challenge of promoting physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD and provide complementary evidence to aid evaluations of interventions already attempted in this area, but also adds insight into future development of interventions targeting physical activity maintenance in COPD.



Tobacco smoking is the world’s leading cause of premature death and disability. Global targets to reduce premature deaths by 25% by 2025 will require a substantial increase in the number of smokers making a quit attempt, and a significant improvement in the success rates of those attempts in low, middle and high income countries. In many countries the only place where the majority of smokers can access support to quit is primary care. There is strong evidence of cost-effective interventions in primary care yet many opportunities to put these into practice are missed. This paper revises the approach proposed by the International Primary Care Respiratory Group published in 2008 in this journal to reflect important new evidence and the global variation in primary-care experience and knowledge of smoking cessation. Specific for primary care, that advocates for a holistic, bio-psycho-social approach to most problems, the starting point is to approach tobacco dependence as an eminently treatable condition. We offer a hierarchy of interventions depending on time and available resources. We present an equitable approach to behavioural and drug interventions. This includes an update to the evidence on behaviour change, gender difference, comparative information on numbers needed to treat, drug safety and availability of drugs, including the relatively cheap drug cytisine, and a summary of new approaches such as harm reduction. This paper also extends the guidance on special populations such as people with long-term conditions including tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease, pregnant women, children and adolescents, and people with serious mental illness. We use expert clinical opinion where the research evidence is insufficient or inconclusive. The paper describes trends in the use of waterpipes and cannabis smoking and offers guidance to primary-care clinicians on what to do faced with uncertain evidence. Throughout, it recognises that clinical decisions should be tailored to the individual’s circumstances and attitudes and be influenced by the availability and affordability of drugs and specialist services. Finally it argues that the role of the International Primary Care Respiratory Group is to improve the confidence as well as the competence of primary care and, therefore, makes recommendations about clinical education and evaluation. We also advocate for an update to the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines to optimise each primary-care intervention. This International Primary Care Respiratory Group statement has been endorsed by the Member Organisations of World Organization of Family Doctors Europe.

Concepts: Drug addiction, Addiction, Pharmacology, Death, Tobacco smoking, Tobacco, Nicotine, Smoking


Poor symptom control and impaired quality of life are common in adults with asthma, and breathing retraining exercises may be an effective method of self-management. This study aimed to explore the experiences of participants in the intervention arms of the BREATHE trial, which investigated the effectiveness of breathing retraining as a mode of asthma management. Sixteen people with asthma (11 women, 8 per group) who had taken part in the intervention arms of the BREATHE trial (breathing retraining delivered by digital versatile disc (DVD) or face-to-face sessions with a respiratory physiotherapist) took part in semi-structured telephone interviews about their experiences. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Breathing retraining was perceived positively as a method of asthma management. Motivations for taking part included being asked, to enhance progress in research, to feel better/reduce symptoms, and to reduce medication. Participants were positive about the physiotherapist, liked having the materials tailored, found meetings motivational, and liked the DVD and booklet. The impact of breathing retraining following regular practice included increased awareness of breathing and development of new habits. Benefits of breathing retraining included increased control over breathing, reduced need for medication, feeling more relaxed, and improved health and quality of life. Problems included finding time to practice the exercises, and difficulty mastering techniques. Breathing retraining was acceptable and valued by almost all participants, and many reported improved wellbeing. Face to face physiotherapy was well received. However, some participants in the DVD group mentioned being unable to master techniques.

Concepts: Feeling, Sony, Quality of life, Physical therapy, Holographic Versatile Disc, DVD, Compact Disc, Blu-ray Disc


An asthma attack or exacerbation signals treatment failure. Most attacks are preventable and failure to recognize risk of asthma attacks are well recognized as risk factors for future attacks and even death. Of the 19 recommendations made by the United Kingdom National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) (1) only one has been partially implemented-a National Asthma Audit; however, this hasn’t reported yet. The Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in London implemented a clinical asthma audit on 291 children and young people aged under 19 years (CYP) who had been treated for asthma attacks in 2016. This was funded as a Local Incentive Scheme (LIS) aimed at improving quality health care delivery. Two years after the publication of the NRAD report it is surprising that risks for future attacks were not recognized, that few patients were assessed objectively during attacks and only 10% of attacks were followed up within 2 days. However, it is encouraging that CYP hospital admissions following the audit were reduced by 16%, with clear benefit for patients, their families and the local health economy. This audit has provided an example of how clinicians can focus learning on patients who have had asthma attacks and utilize these events as a catalyst for active reflection in particular on modifiable risk factors. Through identification of these risks and active optimization of management, preventable asthma attacks could become ‘never events’.


Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a reduced quality of life (QoL) and exacerbations that drive health service utilization (HSU). A majority of patients with COPD are managed in primary care. Our objective was to evaluate an integrated disease management, self-management, and structured follow-up intervention (IDM) for high-risk patients with COPD in primary care. This was a one-year multi-center randomized controlled trial. High-risk, exacerbation-prone COPD patients were randomized to IDM provided by a certified respiratory educator and physician, or usual physician care. IDM received case management, self-management education, and skills training. The primary outcome, COPD-related QoL, was measured using the COPD Assessment Test (CAT). Of 180 patients randomized from 8 sites, 81.1% completed the study. Patients were 53.6% women, mean age 68.2 years, post-bronchodilator FEV1 52.8% predicted, and 77.4% were Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease Stage D. QoL-CAT scores improved in IDM patients, 22.6 to 14.8, and worsened in usual care, 19.3 to 22.0, adjusted difference 9.3 (p < 0.001). Secondary outcomes including the Clinical COPD Questionnaire, Bristol Knowledge Questionnaire, and FEV1 demonstrated differential improvements in favor of IDM of 1.29 (p < 0.001), 29.6% (p < 0.001), and 100 mL, respectively (p = 0.016). Compared to usual care, significantly fewer IDM patients had a severe exacerbation, -48.9% (p < 0.001), required an urgent primary care visit for COPD, -30.2% (p < 0.001), or had an emergency department visit, -23.6% (p = 0.001). We conclude that IDM self-management and structured follow-up substantially improved QoL, knowledge, FEV1, reduced severe exacerbations, and HSU, in a high-risk primary care COPD population. NCT02343055.


Health professionals tasked with advising patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) how to use inhaler devices properly and what to do about unwanted effects will be aware of a variety of commonly held precepts. The evidence for many of these is, however, lacking or old and therefore in need of re-examination. Few would disagree that facilitating and encouraging regular and proper use of inhaler devices for the treatment of asthma and COPD is critical for successful outcomes. It seems logical that the abandonment of unnecessary or ill-founded practices forms an integral part of this process: the use of inhalers is bewildering enough, particularly with regular introduction of new drugs, devices and ancillary equipment, without unnecessary and pointless adages. We review the evidence, or lack thereof, underlying ten items of inhaler ‘lore’ commonly passed on by health professionals to each other and thence to patients. The exercise is intended as a pragmatic, evidence-informed review by a group of clinicians with appropriate experience. It is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the literature; rather, we aim to stimulate debate, and to encourage researchers to challenge some of these ideas and to provide new, updated evidence on which to base relevant, meaningful advice in the future. The discussion on each item is followed by a formal, expert opinion by members of the ADMIT Working Group.

Concepts: Ipratropium, Critical thinking, Pulmonary hypertension, Theophylline, Spirometry, Inhaler, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Asthma