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COPD in Taiwan: a National Epidemiology Survey

Authors Cheng S, Chan M, Wang C, Lin C, Wang H, Hsu J, Hang L, Chang C, Perng D, Yu C

Received 1 June 2015

Accepted for publication 7 September 2015

Published 11 November 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 2459—2467

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S89672

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor Hsiao-Chi Chuang

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Shih-Lung Cheng,1,2 Ming-Cheng Chan,3 Chin-Chou Wang,4 Ching-Hsiung Lin,5 Hao-Chien Wang,6 Jeng-Yuan Hsu,3 Liang-Wen Hang,7,8 Chee-Jen Chang,9 Diahn-Warng Perng,10,* Chong-Jen Yu6,*

On behalf of the Taiwan COPD Consortium

1Department of Internal Medicine, Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, New Taipei City, 2Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Yuan Ze University, Chung-Li City, Taoyuan County, 3Department of Internal Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, 4Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, 5Division of Chest Medicine, Changhua Christian Hospital, Changhua City, Changhua County, 6Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, 7Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine Center, China Medical University Hospital, 8Department of Respiratory Therapy, College of Health Care, China Medical University, Taichung, 9Biostatistical Center for Clinical Research, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou Branch, Guishan Township, Taoyuan County, 10Department of Chest Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of COPD in Taiwan and to document the disease characteristics and associated risk factors.
Methods: We conducted a random cross-sectional national survey of adults older than 40 years in Taiwan. Respiratory health screening questions identified subjects with diagnosed COPD or whose reported symptoms also fulfilled an epidemiological case definition; these were eligible to complete the survey, which also included indices of symptom severity and disability and questions on comorbidities, medical treatments, smoking habits, and occupations potentially harmful to respiratory health. Subjects with diagnosed COPD were subdivided by smoking status. Subjects who fulfilled the case definition of COPD and smoked were designated as “possible COPD”. Participants who did not fit the case definition of COPD were asked only about their personal circumstances and smoking habits. Data from these groups were analyzed and compared.
Results: Of the 6,600 participants who completed the survey, 404 (6.1%) fulfilled the epidemiological case definition of COPD: 137 with diagnosed COPD and 267 possible COPD. The most common comorbidities of COPD were hypertension or cardiovascular diseases (36.1%). Subjects with definite COPD had significantly higher COPD Assessment Test scores than the possible COPD group (14.6±8.32 vs 12.6±6.49, P=0.01) and significantly more comorbid illnesses (P=0.01). The main risk factors contributing to health care utilization in each COPD cohort were higher COPD Assessment Test scores (odds ratio [OR] 1.15, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04–1.26), higher modified Medical Research Council Breathlessness Scale scores (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.11–3.51), and having more than one comorbidity (OR 5.19, 95% CI 1.05–25.61).
Conclusion: With estimated prevalence of 6.1% in the general population, COPD in Taiwan has been underdiagnosed. Symptoms and comorbidities were independent risk factors for health care utilization in subjects with definite or possible COPD. There is an urgent need to raise awareness of the importance of early evaluation and prompt treatment for subjects with chronic airway symptoms.

Keywords: Asia, COPD, epidemiology, health care utilization, risk factors

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