Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 187, Issue 2, pp 403–407 | Cite as

Adherence to COPD management guidelines in general practice? A review of the literature

  • J. SehlEmail author
  • J. O’Doherty
  • R. O’Connor
  • B. O’Sullivan
  • A. O’Regan
Review Article



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive illness that is mostly managed in the general practice setting. The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines are the international gold standard, and it is important to understand how these are being applied in general practice.


This review aimed to assess the current level of adherence to international best practice guidelines among general practitioners in relation to COPD.


PubMed and EMBASE searches (from 2012 to 2016) were performed and used the search terms guidelines, COPD, general practitioners, and primary care. Papers were excluded if they were not primary sources, were published before 2012, or did not pertain to a general practice setting.


After applying set inclusion and exclusion criteria, 11 studies were retrieved. These papers were grouped under three categories: diagnosis, pharmacological, and non-pharmacological management, based on the GOLD guidelines.


Current studies show significant variability in adherence to the GOLD guidelines. Barriers identified include lack of clarity, unfamiliarity with recommendations, and lack of familiarity with the guidelines. If general practice is expected to manage COPD and other chronic diseases, health service investment is needed to provide appropriate focused guidelines, to support their dissemination and resources to implement them in practice.


Adherence COPD Educational General practitioners GOLD guidelines Management 


Compliance with ethical standards


No external funding

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was not required for this review.

Supplementary material

11845_2017_1651_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary Table 2 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Limerick Graduate Entry Medical SchoolLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Deenagh Medical PracticeKillarneyIreland

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