Occupational lung disease survey of respiratory physicians in Northern Ireland

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Abstract

Background

Respiratory physicians are likely to encounter occupational lung disease (OLD) in their daily practice.

Aims

To assess the profile of cases being encountered by general respiratory physicians in Northern Ireland (NI) and determine satisfaction with training, confidence in diagnosis and management of OLD.

Methods

An online survey of all consultant respiratory physicians currently practising in NI. Questions assessed the numbers of new cases seen over the preceding year, case type, satisfaction with specialist registrar training in OLD and degree of confidence in the diagnosis and management of these conditions.

Results

Of the 40 consultants identified, the response rate was 80% (n = 32) with 94% of respondents (n = 30) indicating they had dealt with patients suspected of having occupation-related respiratory symptoms. The most commonly encountered OLDs were pleural plaques (91% of respondents), occupational asthma (88%), asbestosis (84%), non-asbestosis pulmonary fibrosis (76%), hypersensitivity pneumonitis (67%) and mesothelioma (66%). Just over one third of consultants (36%, n = 10) indicated a lack of confidence in diagnosis and management of OLD with almost half (48%) dissatisfied with OLD training as a registrar and a further 78% (n = 25) indicating they would value additional training in OLD as a consultant.

Conclusions

The majority of respiratory consultants in NI encountered OLD in their day to day practice and half were dissatisfied with their specialist registrar training in OLD and express a lack of confidence in the diagnosis and management of these conditions. This highlights the need for additional training at both registrar and consultant level.

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