New Data and Measures for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth-leading cause of death in the US, and is an important cause of hospitalization and mortality in our aging population. In 2006, there were 9.5 million US adults with chronic bronchitis (4.3%) and 4.1 million adults with emphysema (1.8%).

Many states routinely collect COPD data (as a part of hospital discharge data sets); however, these data are not readily accessible to health professionals or the public. Given the magnitude of public health and economic impacts of COPD in the US, this is an important data gap in information that could be used to inform public health actions and policy.

In December 2011 the Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking (MN EPHT) Program at MDH launched county-level data for COPD hospitalizations (rates and counts) on MN Public Health Data Access (see Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). MN EPHT developed these data using methods that are consistent with the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, so that they may be easily adapted by other states and at the national level. In addition, in 2009 Minnesota was one of a small number of states in the country to measure COPD prevalence statewide using the Minnesota Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System. Together these data provide useful information to evaluate trends and spatial patterns over time, and to inform the public about important risk factors and public health actions.

MN EPHT currently is working with the Minnesota American Lung Association to use COPD data to educate health professionals and others about the impact of COPD in Minnesota. This activity resulted in additional media coverage of COPD in the state, and initiated discussions with key partners regarding mechanisms for raising awareness about this poorly recognized and underestimated public health issue. In addition, MN EPHT has shared the COPD data and measures with other states and CDC as a potential future developmental area for the CDC National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.


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