BACKGROUND: Many deaths globally are attributable to non-communicable disease, and four-fifths of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. Globally, COPD is currently the third leading cause of mortality.

RESEARCH QUESTION: 1) To determine the prevalence and burden of symptoms and concerns, and 2) determine predicting factors of symptom burden among patients with COPD.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted at eight primary care sites in Western Cape. We collected socio-demographic data (age, gender, smoking status, number of missed doses of prescribed medication in the last seven days) and clinical data (PEF and KPS). The Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS), the Medical Outcomes Study, Social Support Survey (MOS-SSS), the London Chest Activity of Daily Living Scale (LCADLS) and the COPD Assessment Test (CAT) (impairment on person's life) were administered to patients. We conducted ordered logistic regression analysis to assess factors associated with the burden of symptoms. MSAS subscales: 1) Global symptom distress index, 2) physical symptom distress and 3) psychological symptom distress were dependent outcomes. We constructed three ordinal logistic regression models for each of the three subscales. Covariates were MOS-SSS, LCADLS, CAT, demographic and clinical variables.

RESULTS: We recruited n=387 patients, mean age 59.5 years, 53.0% female. In multivariate analysis, each of the three models (ie, global, psychological and physical symptom distress) was positively associated with impairment on person's life p<0.001, difficulty to perform activities of daily living p<0.001, and low social support p<0.001. Old age was associated with lower global symptom distress (p=0.004), psychological and (0.014) physical distress (0.005). Missing 1 or more doses of medication was associated with higher levels of global (0.004) and physical (0.005) symptom distress.

INTERPRETATION: The high prevalence and burden of physical and psychological symptoms provides strong evidence of the need for integrating person-centred assessment and management of symptoms in primary care settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1665-1679
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2023


  • Humans
  • Female
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive/diagnosis
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Prevalence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • South Africa/epidemiology
  • Asthma
  • Primary Health Care


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