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chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, CNS practice, risk factors, spirometry





Purpose/Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a screening program in identifying undiagnosed individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


Theoretical Rationale: Underdiagnosis of COPD is common. Symptoms do not usually become apparent until the disease is advanced. Consequently, by the time a diagnosis of COPD is made, based on symptoms, the individual has often lost up to 50% or more of their original lung capacity. Early diagnosis and intervention has been demonstrated to have an impact in slowing the progression of the disease. The study was based on the premise that when individuals become self-aware of their risk factors related to disease, they are more likely to change their behaviors. The Transtheoretical Model describes how individuals move through various stages of change and how they can be helped in transitioning from one stage to another.


Description of the Project: Subjects (n = 243) were recruited via letter, newspaper, and physician referral. The screening program consisted of (1) pulmonary function testing using a handheld spirometry device, (2) education about the test results and COPD, and (3) smoking cessation counseling. Current smokers and those found to have obstruction were contacted at 8 to 12 weeks after screening.


Outcome: Results indicated that 209 (86%) of participants were at risk for developing COPD as evidenced by current or past smoking status. Mild to moderate stage obstructive disease was found in 55 subjects (23%). Of 61 subjects contacted after the screening, 29 smokers (47%) indicated they had stopped smoking, were in the process of quitting, or were seriously considering quitting.


Conclusions: Results support the use of a community-screening program to identify and help modify risk factors for COPD.


Implications for Nursing Practices: This project provides an example of how a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) can exercise all the spheres of CNS influence: the patient/client sphere, the nursing personnel sphere, and the organization sphere. In addition, the COPD screening project demonstrated how a CNS can successfully lead and direct a community initiative and influence others in changing behavior to enhance their state of health.