Summary of: Trappenburg JCA et al. (2011) Effect of an action plan with ongoing support by a case manager on exacerbation-related outcome in patients with COPD: a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Thorax 66: 977- 984. [Prepared by Kylie Hill, CAP Editor.]. Question: In patients with COPD, does an action plan (AP) with support from a case manager lead to earlier contact with healthcare professionals and faster recovery from an exacerbation? Design: Randomised, controlled trial with concealed allocation. Patients were unaware of the study aims. Setting: 8 regional hospitals and 5 general practices in Europe. Participants: Adults with COPD, aged > 40 years, with a substantial smoking history, and using bronchodilators were eligible. Exclusion criteria were a primary diagnosis of asthma or cardiac disease, or presence of disease that would affect mortality or participation (eg, confusion). Randomisation of 233 patients allocated 111 to the intervention group and 122 to the control group. Interventions: Both groups received usual care and brief nurse-led education about management of their disease. In addition, the intervention group received an individualised written AP, encouragement to contact the nurse for more information if needed, and two standardised telephone reinforcement sessions at 1 and 4 months following randomisation. The nurse, in consultation with physician, was able to provide a course of corticosteroids and antibiotics. Outcome measures: Patients recorded their symptoms daily and completed the 24-hour Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ) every 3 days, for 6 months. The primary outcome was time to recovery of health status following an exacerbation, defined as a return to pre-exacerbation CCQ scores. Secondary outcomes included the time delay between exacerbation onset and exacerbation-related healthcare contact and exacerbationrelated self-efficacy. Results: CCQ data were available for 216 patients. The mean symptom recovery time was shorter in the AP group by 3.68 days (95% CI 0.04 to 7.32). Patients in the AP group with an exacerbation sought treatment 2.9 days earlier (95% CI 2.4 to 3.5) than patients in the control group. The change in self-efficacy was higher in favour of the AP group. There were no differences in the number of exacerbations or healthcare contact between the groups. Conclusion: An AP with case manager support enhanced early detection of exacerbations and expedited recovery from symptoms following these events.