Does screening for loss of lung function help smokers give up?
Wells S., de Lusignan S.
One-fifth of smokers show accelerated decline in lung function. These are the patients that go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an illness characterized by cough, production of sputum, shortness of breath and premature death (Sethi and Rochester, 2000). If this group of smokers stopped smoking, their decline would slow and they might avoid developing COPD. This pilot study aimed to discover whether those with accelerated decline in lung function would quit if presented with the facts about their situation. Known smokers in their 50s were screened for signs of accelerated respiratory decline. Those with an accelerated decline in lung function were identified and given tailored smoking cessation advice. Of 141 eligible patients, 22 responded and six gave up smoking and remained non-smokers 1 year later. The results of this pilot suggest that screening smokers for accelerated respiratory decline by practice nurses is feasible and acceptable to those patients that respond. Further research is needed to discover whether such an intervention would be cost-effective.