Desktop Helper No. 5 - Predicting diagnosis in primary care patients suspected of obstructive respiratory disease

This 2-page Desktop Helper aims to be a practical guide for clinicians. It is a tool designed to support general practitioners (GPs) in diagnosing their patients with suspicion of obstructive respiratory disease.

Misdiagnoses and under-diagnoses of asthma and COPD are common. Many current diagnostic tools are not based on real-life data and hence lack generalisability to clinical practice. The tool was developed by analysing real-life data from 9,297 primary care patients (45% male, mean age 53±17 years) who were diagnosed by a pulmonologist.

This Desktop Helper can be used to predict a working diagnosis in primary care patients along with an estimation of the probability. Initiating and monitoring response to treatment is the next step. The predicted working diagnosis should be evaluated 3 months after diagnosis and treatment onset to confirm or reject the working diagnosis. This tool is suitable for:

  • Regular primary care patients, including those with comorbidities
  • Patients older than 15 years
  • Patients with respiratory complaints suggestive of obstructive airways disease
  • Patients with available spirometry data including reversibility testing

Author: Esther Metting

Editor: Professor Hilary Pinnock

Funding: Writing funded by IPCRG. Novartis Pharma B.V  funded the typesetting, printing and postage. They took no part in drafting the Desktop Helper

Date published: May 2016

Link to the full paper

Metting EI, Riemersma RA, Kocks JH, Piersma-Wichers MG, Sanderman R, van der Molen T. Feasibility and effectiveness of an Asthma/COPD service for primary care: a cross-sectional baseline description and longitudinal results. Npj Prim Care Respir Med [Internet]. Primary Care Respiratory Society UK/Macmillan Publishers Limited; 2015 Jan 8;25:14101. Available from: