Is spirometry properly used to diagnose COPD? results from the BOLD study in salzburg, austria: A population-based analytical study

Bernd Lamprecht, Andrea Mahringer, Joan B. Soriano, Bernhard Kaiser, A. Sonia Buist, Michael Studnicka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Current guidelines recommend spirometry to confirm a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Aims: To investigate whether a self-reported diagnosis of COPD is associated with prior spirometry and whether a correct diagnosis of COPD is more likely when spirometry was performed. Methods: We used data from the population-based Austrian Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. Participants were aged >40 years and completed post-bronchodilator spirometry. Reported COPD diagnosis and reported prior lung function test were based on questionnaire. Persistent airflow limitation was defined as post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second/forced vital capacity ratio <0.7, corresponding with COPD Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) grade I+, and GOLD grade II+ was also investigated. A correct diagnosis of COPD was defined as a reported physician's diagnosis of COPD and the presence of persistent airflow limitation. Results: 68 (5.4%) of 1,258 participants reported a prior physician's diagnosis of COPD. Of these, only 17 (25.0%) reported a lung function test within the past 12 months and 46 (67.6%) at any time in the past. The likelihood for a correct COPD GOLD grade I+ diagnosis was similar among subjects reporting a lung function test during the last 12 months (likelihood ratio 2.07, 95% CI 0.89 to 5.50) and those not reporting a lung function during the last 12 months (likelihood ratio 2.78, 95% CI 1.58 to 4.87). Similar likelihood ratios were seen when GOLD grade II+ was investigated and when lung function was reported at any time in the past. Conclusions: One-third of subjects with a reported diagnosis of COPD never had a lung function test. When spirometry was reported, this did not increase the likelihood of a correct COPD diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
JournalPrimary Care Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Spirometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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