US COPD Coalition

National Institutes of Health Releases COPD Survey Results


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released the results of its 2016 COPD awareness survey. The survey, titled COPD – Tracking Perceptions of Individuals Affected, Their Caregivers, and the Physicians Who Diagnose and Treat Them, discusses the current perceptions of those affected by COPD, including patients, caregivers and physicians.

Highlights of the report include:

  • 3 out of 4 American adults said that they have heard of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. One-fifth indicated they were not aware of COPD and 5% were not sure.
  • 4 out of 10 adults who have heard of COPD reported having personal experience with COPD.
  • 73% of adults who suffered from COPD symptoms in 2016 said that they had talked to their doctor about their chronic cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

From the physician perspective, nearly half (49%) note that patients not fully describing their symptoms is a barrier to early diagnosis of COPD. 38% of the physicians also note that patients do not fully report their smoking history, which also impedes early diagnosis. Perhaps the most concerning part of the report is the finding that more than “two-thirds of physicians indicated that there are pulmonary rehabilitation programs available to their patients, [but] only 38% of physicians said that they routinely prescribe pulmonary rehabilitation for their patients diagnosed with COPD”. This finding clearly shows that pulmonary rehabilitation remains seriously underutilized.

The report concludes by stressing the need to continue campaigns designed to increase awareness of COPD amongst patients and the medical community, as well as the need to address two major gaps in current COPD care: “increase communication between patients, their caregivers, and the providers and researchers that treat the disease and search for new therapeutic options; and…promote and optimize the effective utilization of pulmonary rehabilitation by COPD patients through the help of health care providers.”