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Signs of progress in the Australian post-2000 COPD experience, but some old problems remain

Authors Dunt D, Doyle C

Received 17 January 2012

Accepted for publication 4 March 2012

Published 7 June 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 357—366


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

David Dunt,1 Colleen Doyle,1,2

1Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; 2National Ageing Research Institute, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia

Abstract: This study aims to describe current trends in Australia regarding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mortality and morbidity rates, and in its treatment and prevention from 2000 to 2010. The study’s purpose is to better define future directions in curbing COPD. People with COPD and their caregivers who attend patient support groups (n = 21), pulmonary rehabilitation group coordinators (n = 27) within Victoria, and the Australian Lung Foundation provided informed feedback. COPD was a leading underlying cause of death in both sexes during these years. Nevertheless, mortality rates declined from 1980 to 2007, with rates for males almost halving. Its prevalence has also substantially declined. Smoking rates have declined in age groups over 40 years old in both sexes. The COPD-X Plan provides evidence-based guidelines for the management of COPD. Many government, professional, and community initiatives have been recently implemented to promote the Plan. Two studies—one conducted before and one conducted after the publication of the COPD-X Plan—report some progress, but there are still very considerable departures from evidence-based practice. The Australian Lung Foundation estimates that only 1% of patients who could benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation programs have suitable access to such programs. A common priority for all informants was that there needed to be greater awareness of—and a more positive orientation to—COPD in both the Australian and health professional communities. The study concluded that substantial reductions in COPD and smoking cessation rates contrast with more limited progress toward adopting other aspects of evidence-based practice. The “good news” story concerning reductions in COPD disease with improving smoking cessation rates could form the basis for suitable media campaigns.

Keywords: COPD, disease trends, community perceptions, health services planning

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