COPD is a common disease responsible for significant morbidity and mortality. Public awareness or lack of awareness has the potential to impact progress in decreasing the prevalence and societal burden of COPD. We sought to examine awareness of COPD in the community and whether changes have occurred over the last four years.
In order to track public awareness, questions on COPD were included in a large phone survey among approximately 1,000 adults in the United States during the same approximate weekend in August for four consecutive years. The objective was to take annual measurements of public awareness of COPD. Respondents indicated whether they had “heard of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD” [claimed awareness] and whether they described COPD as a respiratory disease [true awareness].
The “claimed awareness” of COPD from 1999-2002 according to gender and age are summarized in the table
Claimed Awareness of COPDYear - TotalMaleFemale18-44 years45+ years1999 - 41%38%45%39%46%2000 - 37%29%43%36%37%2001 - 33%27%38%27%40%2002 - 42%34%49%37%48%below (% represents affirmative response). In 2002, 17% of the total respondents were able to describe COPD as a respiratory disease [true awareness]. Awareness was higher in women and in the older age group. Among smokers, claimed and true awareness of COPD was 46% and 19% respectively; not significantly higher than among the general public. The claimed awareness of chronic bronchitis was 90% and of emphysema was 93%. However, the respective true awareness was 63% and 72%.CONCLUSIONS: There is continued low public awareness of COPD. Furthermore, there appears to be no visible change in awareness in the past four years.
The study confirms the need for enhanced public education about COPD.
S. Kesten, employee of Boehringer-Ingelheim.