Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and asthma combined account for 20 percent of visits to family physicians in this country. This prevalence of COPD in patients cared for most often by family physicians led the AAFP, in collaboration with the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, to create a new curriculum package called COPD Comprehensive.
COPD Comprehensive was created specifically for family medicine residents and new-to-practice physicians, but the resource is available at no charge to all AAFP members who want to brush up on their knowledge of the disease.
The learning program includes modules on COPD prevention, differential diagnosis, spirometry and patient interventions. The evidenced-based curriculum package also includes an exam in each of those four topic areas, as well as three case studies designed to reinforce the program's educational content. Moreover, the package addresses all six core competencies for residency education established by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
COPD Comprehensive also includes supporting materials from Tar Wars(www.tarwars.org), the AAFP's tobacco-free education program for children. Each day in the United States, nearly 4,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 smoke their first cigarette, so the partnership with Tar Wars is important.
"As we all know, cigarette smoking is a major underlying etiology for COPD," said Peter Carek, M.D., program director at Trident/Medical University of South Carolina Family Medicine Residency Program in Charleston and one of the program authors.
Carek told AAFP News Now that about 1 percent of the general population has COPD, but the incidence of the disease in patients 40 and older is as high as 10 percent.
Release of the new resource is timely, said Carek. "Residents are going to see COPD; practicing physicians take care of it quite often, and it's a major problem in the country. COPD is one of those disease processes that family physicians need to feel comfortable addressing."
COPD Comprehensive materials reinforce these facts about COPD:
- it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States;
- between 1970 and 2002, age-standardized rates of death from COPD increased by 103 percent in the United States;
- COPD mortality increases are related to underdiagnosis and undertreatment of the disease;
- the cost of providing care for patients with COPD in the United States is $37 billion annually; and
- COPD is second only to coronary artery disease as a leading cause of disability in Americans older than age 40.
Content for the curriculum was written by family medicine residency directors and faculty members. Financial support for the project was provided by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.