Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) Causes Significant Burden for Vulnerable COPD Population

February 05, 2019

Study shows individuals with COPD-CAP often require weeks to recover, resulting in missed work and participation in usual activities.

Washington, DC – February 4, 2019 – According to a new study posted online in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation and conducted by the COPD Foundation in collaboration with and funded by Pfizer Inc., community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), which carries a high morbidity and economic burden worldwide, is even more physically and economically devastating to the vulnerable population of individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CAP is a common but serious lung infection that can be caused by bacterial or viral pathogens including Streptococcus pneumoniae, influenza or rhinovirus.

The study concluded that individuals with COPD suffering from CAP will miss an average of 21 days from work with an additional 14 days required to return to “usual” job performance, be impaired from normal activities for more than 30 days and experience weeks of lingering symptoms. Nearly 500 individuals with COPD who also had recently received a CAP diagnosis completed a survey within 120 days of their initial CAP diagnosis and a second survey 30 days later via a secure online, interactive patient registrythe COPD Patient-Powered Research Network.

The study’s results show that all the COPD-CAP-diagnosed participants experienced multiple symptoms including cough, breathlessness and fatigue, often requiring weeks to recover and resulting in missed work and participation in usual activities. Over 84 percent reported requiring assistance from family and friends. The symptoms and resulting burden were greater and lasted for a longer period than reported in the general community of CAP-diagnosed individuals without COPD surveyed in previous CAP studies.

“Our study is one of the first to focus on the impact of CAP in a cohort limited to individuals diagnosed with COPD,” explains lead study author Cara Pasquale, MPH, Senior Director of the COPD Patient-Powered Research Network at the COPD Foundation. “The majority of our study’s participants were younger than 60 and therefore more likely to still be working.”

The mean age of participants was 48.5 years old (compared to previous CAP studies’ mean ages of greater than 61 years). In the COPD cohort of this study, over 90 percent of participants reported being hospitalized for their CAP.

“We used the CAP Burden of Illness Questionnaire to assess symptoms, duration of symptoms and impact on work, activities and family. Our results demonstrate that CAP is a serious and burdensome condition for individuals with COPD and illustrate the need for careful review, affirmation and broader implementation of strategies for CAP prevention in the COPD population,” states Barbara P. Yawn, MD, MSc, study co-author and Chief Scientific Officer at the COPD Foundation. “These strategies should include encouraging healthcare providers to improve their immunization rates for annual influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations among the COPD patient population—a population of almost 15 million in the United States alone.”


About COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) encompasses progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma and severe bronchiectasis. The disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness and is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States.

About the COPD Foundation
The COPD Foundation’s mission is to prevent and cure chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and improve the lives of all people affected by COPD. The Foundation’s activities focus on achieving these results through research, education and advocacy programs. To learn more about the COPD Foundation, please visit

COPD Foundation
Cara B. Pasquale, MPH
Telephone: 866-731-2673 ext. 312