Despite the high number of inactive patients with COPD, not all inactive patients are referred to physical therapy, unlike recommendations of general practitioner (GP) guidelines. It is likely that GPs take other factors into account, determining a subpopulation that is treated by a physical therapist (PT). The aim of this study is to explore the phenotypic differences between inactive patients treated in GP practice and inactive patients treated in GP practice combined with PT. Additionally this study provides an overview of the phenotype of patients with COPD in PT practice.
In a cross-sectional study, COPD patient characteristics were extracted from questionnaires. Differences regarding perceived health status, degree of airway obstruction, exacerbation frequency, and comorbidity were studied in a subgroup of 290 inactive patients and in all 438 patients.
Patients treated in GP practice combined with PT reported higher degree of airway obstruction,more exacerbations, more vascular comorbidity, and lower health status compared to patients who were not referred to and treated by a PT.
Unequalpatient phenotypes in different primary care settings have important clinical implications. It can be carefully concluded that other factors, besides the level of inactivity, play a role in referral to PT.