Global burden of COPD: systematic review and meta-analysis

Eur Respir J. 2006 Sep;28(3):523-32. doi: 10.1183/09031936.06.00124605. Epub 2006 Apr 12.


The aim of this study was to quantify the global prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by means of a systematic review and random effects meta-analysis. PubMed was searched for population-based prevalence estimates published during the period 1990-2004. Articles were included if they: 1) provided total population or sex-specific estimates for COPD, chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema; and 2) gave method details sufficiently clearly to establish the sampling strategy, approach to diagnosis and diagnostic criteria. Of 67 accepted articles, 62 unique entries yielded 101 overall prevalence estimates from 28 different counties. The pooled prevalence of COPD was 7.6% from 37 studies, of chronic bronchitis alone (38 studies) was 6.4% and of emphysema alone (eight studies) was 1.8%. The pooled prevalence from 26 spirometric estimates was 8.9%. The most common spirometric definitions used were those of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (13 estimates). There was significant heterogeneity, which was incompletely explained by subgroup analysis (e.g. age and smoking status). The prevalence of physiologically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults aged > or =40 yrs is approximately 9-10%. There are important regional gaps, and methodological differences hinder interpretation of the available data. The efforts of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease and similar groups should help to standardise chronic obstructive pulmonary disease prevalence measurement.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*