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Summary

Objective:  To assess the usefulness of a patient diary card of symptoms for monitoring the evolution of an exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (CB) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in primary care.

Method:  Multicentre, observational study. Patients with an exacerbation filled out a diary every day before bedtime during 10 days. The diary score ranged from 0 (best) to 28 (worst). A visit was performed at day 15 to collect the patient diaries.

Results:  Of the 1101 patients studied 921 returned the diaries (83.7%). Clinical failure was found in 236 patients (25.6%). The mean global score on day 1 was 21.5 ± 3.8. Patients considered as cured at day 10 presented a lower score at day 1 (21.1 ± 3.9) vs. those who failed (22.6 ± 4.2; p < 0.001). When no reduction was observed in the score from days 1 to 3, the percentage of failures was 36.1%, being only 11.6% with a reduction of 5 points or more (p < 0.001). The strongest correlation with failure was observed with general status, breathing, symptom scale and the need for extra inhaler doses.

Conclusion:  A symptom diary card seems to be a valuable tool to monitor the evolution of an acute exacerbation of CB/COPD in primary care.