Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have found that COPD is more common among poor residents of rural areas.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine examined National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data from 2009 to 2011 in order to determine the nationwide prevalence of COPD in urban vs. rural areas and determine the impact of rural residence and other factors on COPD prevalence. The other factors the investigators compared were region, neighborhood, poverty, race and ethnicity, household poverty, and housing characteristics. Nearly 90,000 participants in the study were all adults older than 40 years who self reported either symptoms of emphysema or chronic bronchitis.“We wanted to identify the prevalence of COPD in urban and rural areas in the US and determine how residence, region, poverty, race and ethnicity, and other factors influence COPD rates,” lead author Sarath Raju, MD, MPH, reiterated in a press release.

The researchers concluded that rural residence and poverty level greatly contributed to risk for developing COPD. The disease was prevalent in 7.2 of the participants surveyed nationwide, with an increased 11.9 percent prevalence in rural and poor communities. The factors associated with COPD were white race, age, male sex, and years of smoking. There were also community level factors linked to COPD that the researchers found, such as rural residence, southern residence, and community poverty.