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Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2018 May 10;13:1507-1514. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S146390. eCollection 2018.

Gender-specific estimates of COPD prevalence: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology Unit, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece.
Doctor Evidence, Client Solutions, Santa Monica, CA, USA.
Global Medical Affairs, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, London, UK.



COPD has been perceived as being a disease of older men. However, >7 million women are estimated to live with COPD in the USA alone. Despite a growing body of literature suggesting an increasing burden of COPD in women, the evidence is limited.


To assess and synthesize the available evidence among population-based epidemiologic studies and calculate the global prevalence of COPD in men and women.

Materials and methods:

A systematic review and meta-analysis reporting gender-specific prevalence of COPD was undertaken. Gender-specific prevalence estimates were abstracted from relevant studies. Associated patient characteristics as well as custom variables pertaining to the diagnostic method and other important epidemiologic covariates were also collected. A Bayesian random-effects meta-analysis was performed investigating gender-specific prevalence of COPD stratified by age, geography, calendar time, study setting, diagnostic method, and disease severity.

Measurements and main results:

Among 194 eligible studies, summary prevalence was 9.23% (95% credible interval [CrI]: 8.16%-10.36%) in men and 6.16% (95% CrI: 5.41%-6.95%) in women. Gender prevalences varied widely by the World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease subregions, with the highest female prevalence found in North America (8.07% vs 7.30%) and in participants in urban settings (13.03% vs 8.34%). Meta-regression indicated that age ≥40 and bronchodilator testing contributed most significantly to heterogeneity of prevalence estimates across studies.


We conducted the largest ever systematic review and meta-analysis of global prevalence of COPD and the first large gender-specific review. These results will increase awareness of COPD as a critical woman's health issue.


COPD; age; gender; meta-analysis; prevalence; systematic review

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