Study: COVID-19 Pandemic Has Made Access to Care More Difficult for Patients with COPD

According to the survey results, 56% of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease reported that COVID-19 has made it difficult for them to receive treatment

A survey of more than 4000 adults in 4 countries has revealed new challenges in accessing care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), despite a global shift in awareness and action around respiratory health.

Investigators surveyed adults in China, India, Russia, and the United States to gather insights on awareness of respiratory health and how the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has influenced perceptions of these conditions. According to a press release, the responses revealed that although actions to improve respiratory health are on the rise, there are significant differences in accessing care between patients with and without COPD.

“Due to the nature of the COVID-19 virus, respiratory health has become a daily conversation across the globe,” said Huiling Zhang, head of the Medical Office for Connected Care at Royal Philips, in a press release. “Despite impacting millions of people around the world, COPD isn’t talked about as often as other chronic conditions like heart disease. We conducted this survey to shed light on the unique burdens and stresses that COPD patients face every day, intensified during this time.”

According to the survey results, 56% of patients with COPD reported that COVID-19 has made it difficult for them to receive treatment, 58% reported that managing their COPD during the pandemic has been “completely overwhelming,” and 68% reported that they worry much more than they used to about their COPD. The pandemic also presented challenges for informal caregivers, with 79% citing the pandemic as the factor that influenced the amount of care they provided to the patient.

Despite these challenges, the survey also found that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased awareness for COPD across the globe. Nearly 60% of people said they are more familiar with COPD now compared with before the pandemic, a statistic that may be linked with increased education around respiratory illnesses due to the respiratory effects of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, 52% of respondents said they were familiar with COPD, compared with 72% of respondents now.

The COVID-19 pandemic also changed how patients with COPD received care, according to a press release. Willingness to participate in telehealth visits has increased, particularly for wellness visits, which has increased from 56% to 62%. Willingness to use telehealth options for a chronic health issue has increased from 57% to 64%, and willingness to discuss a new health issue via telehealth has increased from 57% to 63%.

The investigators said they were surprised to find that this increase was more prevalent among patients without COPD, with 55% willing to use telehealth to receive treatment for a chronic health issue before the pandemic and 62% willing to use telehealth now. Finally, they noted that COPD patients reported seeking out better ways to manage their condition because of COVID-19.


Philips World COPD Day survey reveals global shifts in awareness and action surrounding respiratory health [news release]. Philips Global. Email; November 11, 2020. Accessed November 19, 2020.