PURPOSE: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) lacks public recognition despite its high prevalence. We attempted to assess the level of public awareness on COPD in 2002 and then to design a 6-year Action Plan (2003-2008)of raising public awareness and evaluate its effect during the World COPD Days of 2005, 2007 and 2008.
METHODS: We developed the 10-item Athens COPD Awareness Questionnaire (10-ACAQ) which consists of 4 demographic (age, gender, smoking, education) and 6 COPD questions, such as “Have you ever heard the terms Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD ?” and if yes “From which source - mass media, physician, relative/friend ?”, “What disease you think is COPD ?” (1 choice among tuberculosis, cancer, chronic bronchitis/emphysema, asthma, pneumonia, fibrosis), “Which are the usual symptoms of COPD ?” (2 choices among pain, shortness of breath, cough, hemoptysis, fever, phlegm), “What is the major risk factor of COPD ?” (1 choice among stress, smoking, pollution, diet, alcohol). The 6-Year Action Plan consisted of articles in newspapers/magazines and interviews/presentations in TV/radio, free spirometry sessions across country with talks to public and education of primary care physicians. We evaluated the progress through the 10-ACAQ (World COPD Days 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008).
RESULTS: In 2002, 228 Athenians completed the 10-ACAQ. The 47% have heard the disease but only the 13% was aware of COPD. In 2005, 2007 and 2008, the 10-ACAQ was completed by 298, 239 and 258 citizens respectively. The percentage of people having heard COPD icreased from 47% (2002) to 48%, 59% and 74% respectively. The level of public knowledge on COPD increased from 13% (2002) to 29%, 45% and 55% respectively.
CONCLUSION: Substantial improvement in public awareness on COPD has been accomplished through a continuum of activities targeting mass media and primary care physicians. The 10-ACAQ appears to be an easy-to-use valid tool to evaluate COPD public knowledge.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Increasing public awareness is a key factor for the early diagnosis of COPD.
DISCLOSURE: Epaminondas Kosmas, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information