A quasi-experimental study of the relationship between lung disease knowledge and brief lung health educational sessions

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PURPOSE: Public awareness of COPD and its detection with spirometry is lacking. Most patients at high risk for developing COPD do not know their FEV1 and FVC. The first purpose of this quantitative quasi-experimental study is to determine the baseline knowledge of lung disease among the general medical outpatient clinic population at North Shore University Hospital. The second purpose is to examine the relationship between patient lung disease knowledge scores and brief lung health educational sessions provided by respiratory therapists.

METHODS: A respiratory therapist assessed patient baseline knowledge of COPD and spirometry’s role in evaluating lung function with a 12 item survey tool before and one week after an educational intervention. The brief educational sessions were conducted by a respiratory therapist.Pre and post knowledge score analyses consisted primarily of descriptive methods.

RESULTS: 25 patients were evaluated. Baseline knowledge of COPD and Spirometry's role in evaluating lung function was low for each of the 12 items on the survey. Following the educational intervention knowledge scores increased for each item on the survey. The survey knowledge change was most notable for the following items: spirometry is used to evaluate lung function, 85% increase; causes of COPD, 37% increase; spirometry recommendation for those with chronic respiratory symptoms, 50% increase; COPD is increasing in America, 32% increase.

CONCLUSIONS: Brief lung health educational sessions can improve both knowledge and health seeking behavior among patients treated in a general medical clinic setting. Respiratory therapists can play an important role in the provision of patient education related to COPD.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: COPD is now the 3rd leading cause of death in America and patient awareness is low. Patient disease knowledge levels can be increased with brief educational sessions provided by respiratory therapists.