The American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) have published a statement describing the state of current evidence on the diagnosis, assessment, and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), identifying gaps in knowledge and making recommendations for the directions of future research.

“Although much progress has been made in the  assessment and treatment of patients with COPD, a range of important questions  remain,” said 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.”

ERS Guidelines Director, Professor Guy Brusselle,  commented: “The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that COPD will become  the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. It is therefore a critical time for us to act with 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 ATS/ERS Research Statement highlights the types of  research that leading clinicians and researchers believe will have the greatest  impact on outcomes, including studies that determine the impact of COPD-related  clinical practice guidelines on outcomes in patients with COPD.

The statement appears in the April 1 issue of the  American Thoracic Society’s American  Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and in the April issue  of the European Respiratory Society’s European Respiratory Journal. Read it here.

Recommendations include:

    • Using patient-centred outcomes in clinical research
    • Finding high-quality surrogate outcomes that reliably predict patient-centred 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 pharmacological treatments in different COPD subtypes and of different pharmacological treatment  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

“COPD is a major  contributor to morbidity, mortality, and resource use around the world,” said  Dr. Wilson. “Our recommendations on what’s needed in COPD research, from  leading experts in the field, should help in the fight to alleviate some of the  burden of this debilitating disease.”