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Int J Clin Pract. 2009 Jan;63(1):87-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01936.x.

Study of the burden on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Sección de Neumología, Hospital General Universitario de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Spain. jlizquierdoa@gmail.com



Health-related quality of life measures are widely used in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, they are extremely limited when used to evaluate patients outside the clinical trials. The aim of this study was to analyse the burden of the disease using a simple, validated, self-administered questionnaire specifically developed for patients in daily clinical practice.


A total of 3935 patients (74.5% men; mean age, 67 years) participated in a cross-sectional study. The burden of COPD on patients was measured using the Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ). COPD was rated at four levels by the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)) according to The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) scale.


The disease mainly affects old men (more than 50% were over 65 years of age) and non-employed men (23% were employed). Of the patients studied, 22.7% continued smoking, especially men (24.4% of men vs. 18.1% of women). Most patients (54%) were diagnosed with moderate stage II COPD. Severity of COPD was lower in women: 29.6% of men had severe COPD compared with 13.7% of women. During the last year, 65.1% had at least one acute exacerbation and 36.6% were admitted to hospital because of COPD exacerbation. No association was found between the body mass index and COPD stage. The variable that most influenced the disease burden was dyspnoea, as progression from grade 0 to grade 4 increased the disease burden by 1.78 points for symptoms, 2.43 for functional state and 1.53 for mental state. The functional classification of COPD also had a significant influence on the disease burden.


The present findings show that dyspnoea and the degree of airflow limitation are the clinical variables that most affect the burden of COPD from the patient's point of view.

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