Background: Early treatment of COPD exacerbations has shown to be important. Despite a non-negligible negative impact on health related quality of life, a large proportion of these episodes is not reported (no change in treatment). Little is known whether (low burden) strategies are able to capture these unreported exacerbations.
Methods: The Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ) is a short questionnaire with great evaluative properties in measuring health status. The current explorative study evaluates the discriminative properties of weekly CCQ assessment in detecting exacerbations.
Results: In a multicentre prospective cohort study, 121 patients, age 67.4 ± 10.5 years, FEV1 47.7 ± 18.5% pred were followed for 6 weeks by daily diary card recording and weekly CCQ assessment. Weeks were retrospectively labeled as stable or exacerbation (onset) weeks using the Anthonisen symptom diary-card algorithm. Change in CCQ total scores are significantly higher in exacerbation-onset weeks, 0.35 ± 0.69 compared to -0.04 ± 0.37 in stable weeks (p < 0.001). Performance of the Δ CCQ total score discriminating between stable and exacerbation onset weeks was sufficient (area under the ROC curve 0.75). At a cut off point of 0.2, sensitivity was 62.5 (50.3-73.4), specificity 82.0 (79.3-84.4), and a positive and negative predictive value of 43.5 (35.0-51.0) and 90.8 (87.8-93.5), respectively. Using this cut off point, 22 (out of 38) unreported exacerbations were detected while 39 stable patients would have been false positively 'contacted'.
Conclusions: Weekly CCQ assessment is a promising, low burden method to detect unreported exacerbations. Further research is needed to validate discriminative performance and practical implications of the CCQ in detecting exacerbations in daily care.