Defining and targeting health disparities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The global burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) continues to grow in part due to better outcomes in other major diseases and in part because a substantial portion of the worldwide population continues to be exposed to inhalant toxins. However, a disproportionate burden of COPD occurs in people of low socioeconomic status (SES) due to differences in health behaviors, sociopolitical factors, and social and structural environmental exposures. Tobacco use, occupations with exposure to inhalant toxins, and indoor biomass fuel (BF) exposure are more common in low SES populations. Not only does SES affect the risk of developing COPD and etiologies, it is also associated with worsened COPD health outcomes. Effective interventions in these people are needed to decrease these disparities. Efforts that may help lessen these health inequities in low SES include 1) better surveillance targeting diagnosed and undiagnosed COPD in disadvantaged people, 2) educating the public and those involved in health care provision about the disease, 3) improving access to cost-effective and affordable health care, and 4) markedly increasing the efforts to prevent disease through smoking cessation, minimizing use and exposure to BF, and decreasing occupational exposures. COPD is considered to be one the most preventable major causes of death from a chronic disease in the world; therefore, effective interventions could have a major impact on reducing the global burden of the disease, especially in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.
Pleasants, RA; Riley, IL; Mannino, DM
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