The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand

The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) is the only health peak body representing a range of professions (medical specialists, scientists, researchers, academics, nurses, physiotherapists, students and others) across various disciplines within the respiratory/sleep medicine field in Australia and New Zealand. The TSANZ is a Health Promotion Charity. TSANZ is committed to serving the professional needs of its members by improving knowledge and understanding of lung disease, with the ultimate goals being to prevent respiratory illness through research and health promotion and to improve health care for people with respiratory illness.

Do not initiate maintenance inhalers in minimally symptomatic COPD patients with a low risk of exacerbation

Date reviewed: 1 June 2021

Most patients with COPD present with mild disease and few complaints but tend to live a very sedentary lifestyle. The cornerstone of management of mild COPD is smoking cessation, the only proven intervention to relieve symptoms, modify the natural history of disease and lower mortality rates. For asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic patients, quitting smoking is often the only required therapy. Other effective behavioural interventions include maintaining or increasing physical activity, ensuring adequate sleep and a healthy diet and the use of effective stress management strategies.

Inhalers have evidence for only reducing exacerbations and do not modify disease. The use of short- or long-acting bronchodilators on a regular basis is not generally recommended for minimally symptomatic COPD patients with a low risk of exacerbation.

Supporting evidence
  • Diagnosis and Management of Stable COPD. Achilleos KM, Powrie JD. BJMP 2011;4(3): a427
  • Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). GOLD 2017 Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of COPD
  • Treatment of mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chee A & Sin DD. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2008 Dec; 3(4): 563–573
How this list was made How this list was made

In 2018 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians worked with a Lead Fellow nominated by The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to review evidence for 12 paediatric thoracic recommendations on low-value care in paediatric thoracic medicine. These recommendations were the subject of email discussions and deliberation by members of the Paediatric Special Interest Group (SIG) of the TSANZ. They were further discussed at a workshop held at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology in 2017, which included TSANZ members. Based on the feedback provided at this workshop and through email discussions with members of the SIG, four were removed and two of the original 12 were considered for inclusion in the final recommendations with overwhelming support. Members of the Paediatric SIG were then invited to choose three out of the remaining six through an email based poll. This served as the basis for final recommendations, which were further refined and developed through successive drafts based on the input of the Lead Fellow, the results of consultation with other specialty groups and the views of the TSANZ Board.

In 2020 TSANZ worked with RACP’s Policy & Advocacy team as part of the Evolve program to develop a long list of low-value practices and interventions that pertain to the specialty. Through extensive research and redrafting under the guidance of the TSANZ Central Office and members of the TSANZ Board, the list was condensed to the top-5 recommendations for reducing low-value practices in adult thoracic medicine. After several rounds of internal consultations and revisions, the list of recommendations was subject to an extensive review process that involved key College societies with an interest in or professional engagement with thoracic medicine.

Per usual processes, the recommendations were then consulted with other medical colleges through Choosing Wisely Australia. Feedback received in the consultations led to further work and refinements by Policy & Advocacy and TSANZ, which approved these top-5 recommendations. 

Download TSANZ Recommendations