Pan-European data on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are lacking. This cross-sectional epidemiological study evaluated health status in 1817 COPD patients from an 'all-comers' primary care population in seven European countries (87% stable disease; 13% with current exacerbation) using: St George's Respiratory Questionnaire-COPD specific (SGRQ-C), the short form health survey (SF-12) and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) Fatigue scale. Mean total score for SGRQ was 44.7 ± 19.4 showing marked impairment of HRQL. Scores differed little between countries (range 39.2-50.1). Impairment was associated with the severity of airway obstruction, but within each GOLD stage the variation (SD) was wide [Stage I: 38.5 ± 19.3 (n = 223); Stage II: 40.4 ± 18.1 (n = 868); Stage III: 50.2 ± 18.6 (n = 551); Stage IV: 58.6 ± 17.7 (n = 144)]. Patients suffering an exacerbation had a worse SGRQ score (54.9 ± 19.3) than those with stable disease (43.3 ± 19.0). The presence of ≥3 co-morbidities (CM) was also associated with a significantly worse score (49.9 ± 19.1) vs. 1-2 CM (42.1 ± 19.1) or no CM (42.3 ± 18.6). Findings with the SF-12 and FACIT-F results were consistent with those from the SGRQ-C. This large observational primary care study shows that health status is significantly impaired in COPD patients of all severities, even in those with mild airway obstruction. Within each GOLD stage of severity there is considerable heterogeneity in HRQL impairment among patients. (Study number: 111749).
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