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Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2006 Sep;65(3):133-40.

Exacerbations and associated healthcare cost in patients with COPD in general practice.

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Department of General Practice, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.



Acute exacerbations are a characteristic clinical expression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The objective of this study was to investigate the occurrence rate, management, and healthcare costs of exacerbations in patients with COPD in Dutch general practice.


Baseline data set from the COPD on Primary Care Treatment (COOPT) trial was used. Details on the occurrence and management of exacerbations were collected by systematic medical record review for the 2-year period preceding trial inclusion.


The mean age of the 286 study subjects involved was 59.2 (SD 9.6) years, postbronchodilator FEV1 67.1% (SD 16.2) of predicted. Following ERS criteria, subjects suffered from: no (26%); mild (19%); moderate (40%); or severe (15%) airflow obstruction. The overall mean and median annual exacerbation rates were 0.88 (SD 0.79) and 0.5 (IQR 1.0), respectively. Exacerbation rate was not related to severity of airflow obstruction (p=0.628). Mean annual exacerbation costs per subject were 40 Euro, 53 Euro, 61 Euro and 92 Euro for the respective severity subgroups (p=0.012). The increase of costs in the more severe subgroups was mainly attributable to more physician consultations, diagnostic procedures, and prescription of reliever medication (e.g., bronchodilators, cough preparations).


Occurrence of exacerbations did not depend on the severity of airflow obstruction, whereas the healthcare cost associated with exacerbations increased along with the severity of the disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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