The Future of COPD Research Studies


COPD research should focus on patient-centered outcomes according to a joint statement from the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society.

The body of research surrounding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has gaps in knowledge and future studies should center on patient-centered outcomes, according to an official joint statement released by the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society.

“The World Health Organization predicts that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030,” ERS Guidelines Director Professor Guy Brusselle, MD, PhD, said in a statement. “It is therefore a critical time for us to act on improving the management of people with the condition. This document provides us with a valuable point of reference for identifying the most effective types of research in the field of COPD. By identifying the right questions to ask, we aim to improve the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of people with COPD.”

The statement, published in the journals of both organizations, outlines the types of research that clinicians and researchers should conduct in the future. Clinicians, researchers, and patient advocates were involved in the forming of the recommendations. However, it was noted that this was not a systematic review of the current literature. The existing body of knowledge was gathered using a literature search of Medline and then the gaps in knowledge were identified and discussed.

The recommendations included:

  • Using patient-centered outcomes in clinical research
  • Finding high-quality surrogate outcomes that reliably predict patient-centered outcomes
  • Research examining the role of CT scanning in COPD patients
  • Studies assessing the accuracy and utility of COPD screening tools currently used for diagnosis and guiding treatment
  • Examination of the relationship between phenotypic traits and patient outcomes
  • Studies on the relationships between COPD and comorbidities
  • Research on the effects of quitting smoking on COPD disease activity and on approaches to help patients quit smoking
  • Studies measuring the effects of the pharmacological treatments in different COPD subtypes and of different pharmacological treatments approaches and combinations
  • Studies comparing the effectiveness of home-based, hospital-based, and community-based pulmonary rehabilitation programs
  • Research on the effectiveness of long-term oxygen therapy and long-term noninvasive mechanical ventilation for COPD patients

The societies predicted that following these recommendations can bridge the gaps in outcome based research and aid the determining of COPD related clinical practice guidelines.

“Although much progress has been made in the assessment and treatment of patients with COPD, a range of important questions remains,” continued Kevin C. Wilson, MD, Senior Director of Documents and Medical Affairs at the ATS and co chair of the committee that produced the statement. “In our review of the evidence, we aimed to identify these knowledge gaps and highlight questions that will have the greatest impact on improving patient outcomes if addressed by future research.”

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