Background: Chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) exacerbations are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Data regarding factors which causes or prevents exacerbations is very limited. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize the results from available studies to identify potential risk factors for hospital admission and/or re-admission among patients experiencing COPD exacerbations.
Methods: We undertook a systematic review of the literature. Potential studies were identified by searching the electronic databases: PubMed, EMBASE, BIOSIS, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane library, reference lists in trial reports, and other relevant articles.
Results: Seventeen articles that met the predefined inclusioncriteria were identified. Heterogeneity of study designs, risk factors and outcomes restrict the result to only a systematic review and precluded a formal meta-analysis. In this review, three predictive factors: previous hospital admission, dyspnea and oral corticosteroids were all found to be significant risk factors of readmissions and variables including using long term oxygen therapy, having low health status or poor health related quality of life and not having routine physical activity were all associated with an increased risk of both admission and readmission to hospital.
Conclusions: There are a number of potential modifiable factors that are independently associated with a higher risk of COPD exacerbation requiring admission/readmission to the hospital. Identifying these factors and the development of targeted interventions could potentially reduce the number and severity of such exacerbations.