Comparison of health-related quality of life between patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the general population

Scand J Caring Sci. 2013 Dec;27(4):905-12. doi: 10.1111/scs.12002. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with lower health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Previous research has focused primarily on HRQOL in these patients, whereas few studies have compared HRQOL between patients with COPD and the general population.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate differences in HRQOL between patients with COPD stage 2 to COPD stage 4 waiting to begin an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programme and Norwegian individuals with and without other chronic conditions.

Methods: A comparative survey design was used in this study of 100 patients with COPD waiting to begin PR and 3594 individuals from the general population. The SF-36 questionnaire was used to evaluate HRQOL.

Results: Compared with the healthy general population, COPD patients waiting to begin PR had lower scores on all SF-36 components and on the physical and mental health summary components (p < 0.001). Scores for physical function, physical role, general health, vitality, social function, emotional role and the physical health component differed markedly between patients and the general population. Patients with COPD stage 4 had lower HRQOL than did the general population and those with COPD stage 2 and COPD stage 3.

Conclusions: The burden of COPD significantly affects HRQOL in patients with COPD waiting to begin PR, and those with COPD stage 4 are most affected. Action should be taken to support especially those patients with COPD stage 4.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; general population; health-related quality of life; pulmonary rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Norway
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Quality of Life*