The PRAXIS Nexus The PRAXIS Nexus

The COPD National Action Plan: Goal 3

Posted on April 15, 2016   |   
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We thank you for your feedback on our first two COPD National Action Plan posts! We welcome your comments and discussion and appreciate all that you share with us.

We’re on to Goal #3: Increasing collaboration and coordination to sustain surveillance and evaluation to improve collection, analysis, dissemination, and reporting of COPD-related public health data.

Public health data helps researchers and providers to better understand disease and work to prevent their occurrence in populations. The reporting of public health data to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allows HHS and its agencies to track incidence and prevalence of specific diseases, insurance coverage, quality of care, patient satisfaction and other variables. Some of these data are accessible via– an HHS initiative to make high-impact data publicly available – and other data warehouses. Large-scale data of this type are then analyzed and disseminated through a variety of channels, including research articles and annual agency reporting (e.g., CDC).

There is not one single tracking system for COPD-related data; instead, a variety of data sets are used to provide surveillance data for these illnesses.

Here are examples of two different public health COPD data collection and reporting efforts:

The National Health Care Survey (NHCS): is a collection of data from multiple surveys of patients, hospital inpatient, outpatient, ambulatory care departments and other health care facilities. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is one of these data sets. Starting in 1971, HHS began administering the NHANES, which combines survey data with physical examinations (e.g., spirometry) in a subset of respondents. The current version of the NHANES asks, “Has a doctor or other health professional ever told you that you have COPD?” as well as specific questions about being told you have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, current state of disease and age of onset. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is another such data collection effort under the NHCS. In 1957, HHS implemented the NHIS, a face-to-face survey of US households that includes questions on illness and health-related behavior data, access to services, health insurance, immunizations and limitations on functioning. The NHIS asks two questions related to COPD: 1) Have you been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis in the past 12 months? and 2) Have you ever been diagnosed with emphysema? Interested parties, including researchers and policy makers, can apply to access NHCS data sets for analysis. The CDC also disseminates their own select reports and tabulations based upon these data.


The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS): The BRFSS, a complementary HHS survey first administered in 1994, measures the prevalence of COPD through a single question: “Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, or bronchitis?” This question was first added to the BRFSS in 2011. That year, 39,000 of the approximately 500,000 respondents interviewed by telephone reported having COPD. BRFSS data are made available to the public each year along with data analysis guides and tools; states and organizations can then use the data as a part of their public health and public policy efforts.

For a more thorough analysis and discussion of the COPD public health data used to establish COPD prevalence, please see COPD Surveillance—United States, 1999-2011.

With this current state of COPD surveillance in mind, what are your thoughts on how we can better work together to improve:

  • The collection of data from patients and health care organizations?
  • Our analysis of that information?
  • The dissemination of results – to healthcare systems and providers, policy makers, researchers, patients and their communities?

We look forward to your feedback!

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