International variation in the prevalence of COPD (the BOLD Study): a population-based prevalence study

Lancet. 2007 Sep 1;370(9589):741-50. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61377-4.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a growing cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and accurate estimates of the prevalence of this disease are needed to anticipate the future burden of COPD, target key risk factors, and plan for providing COPD-related health services. We aimed to measure the prevalence of COPD and its risk factors and investigate variation across countries by age, sex, and smoking status.

Methods: Participants from 12 sites (n=9425) completed postbronchodilator spirometry testing plus questionnaires about respiratory symptoms, health status, and exposure to COPD risk factors. COPD prevalence estimates based on the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease staging criteria were adjusted for the target population. Logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for COPD associated with 10-year age increments and 10-pack-year (defined as the number of cigarettes smoked per day divided by 20 and multiplied by the number of years that the participant smoked) increments. Meta-analyses provided pooled estimates for these risk factors.

Findings: The prevalence of stage II or higher COPD was 10.1% (SE 4.8) overall, 11.8% (7.9) for men, and 8.5% (5.8) for women. The ORs for 10-year age increments were much the same across sites and for women and men. The overall pooled estimate was 1.94 (95% CI 1.80-2.10) per 10-year increment. Site-specific pack-year ORs varied significantly in women (pooled OR=1.28, 95% CI 1.15-1.42, p=0.012), but not in men (1.16, 1.12-1.21, p=0.743).

Interpretation: This worldwide study showed higher levels and more advanced staging of spirometrically confirmed COPD than have typically been reported. However, although age and smoking are strong contributors to COPD, they do not fully explain variations in disease prevalence-other factors also seem to be important. Although smoking cessation is becoming an increasingly urgent objective for an ageing worldwide population, a better understanding of other factors that contribute to COPD is crucial to assist local public-health officials in developing the best possible primary and secondary prevention policies for their regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires