NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

Dhiraj Agarwal

Project: Practices and perceptions of public and private, general medical practitioners (primary care physicians: “GPs”) in rural India for diagnosis and management of asthma and COPD

Fellowship overview

  • Acute or chronic:  Chronic
  • Country:  India
  • Based at:  KEM Hospital Research Centre, Pune, India
  • Start date:  01 October 2019
  • End date:  30 September 2021
  • Supervisors:  Sanjay Juvekar, Hilary Pinnock, Pam Smith
Dhiraj Agarwal headshot
RESPIRE Fellow: Dhiraj Agarwal


Long-term lung conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are very common and can affect people’s well-being, and ability to work and care for their families.

Respiratory symptoms are common but weak primary health care systems in resource-poor countries are often unable to diagnose the underlying disease condition, leading to inappropriate treatment. A lack of diagnosis also means the true burden of the disease is not appreciated.

To improve treatment of these conditions, we first need to understand how primary care doctors (who provide the majority of health care for rural populations in India) diagnose and treat people with chest symptoms, what makes it difficult for them to provide good care and how they think care can be improved.

Aim and impact

To work with primary care doctors in the Pune district in India, to determine their thoughts on the diagnosis and management of lung conditions.

Based on the results of the study, it will help to suggest ways in which we can improve the diagnosis and management of lung disease in primary care in India. Working with national stakeholders, recommendations and interventions can be developed and tested to improve the diagnosis and management of asthma and COPD in rural India. The importance of such a study is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that highlight the need to strengthen primary health care across the globe.

Key developments

  • Two abstracts delivered at professional conferences (ERS; IPCRG).
  • Data collection is ongoing.

Project data

Download the project Data Management Plan

View project metadata on the Health Data Research Innovation Gateway

About me

I pursued my post-graduation and PhD in Health Science. I joined KEM Hospital Research Centre in July 2007 and have been able to develop my mixed methods experience to include working in an effectiveness trial, an implementation study, an epidemiological survey, as well as developing research skills in project management, supervising fieldwork, scientific writing and presentation skills.

I am currently working as principal project coordinator for 4CCORD multi-country study of RESPIRE, which aims to study the prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases across four low- and middle-income countries. I also initiated a RESPIRE small project which involves analysis of spirometry data for development of spirometry predictive values for western Indian population.