Prevalence of Disability Among Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2016-2017


The prevalence of disabilities is rising steadily, reflecting an aging population and an increasing burden of chronic conditions affecting quality of life. There are scant national data on the prevalence of disability among individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The main objective was to estimate the prevalence of common disabilities among US-based individuals diagnosed with COPD.


Data from the BRFSS, a national telephone survey examining health-related behaviors in 2016-2017 were analyzed. The study population consisted of individuals with self-reported COPD (N = 38352 in 2016 and N = 35423 in 2017). The prevalence of disabilities in hearing, vision, cognition, mobility, and independent living were obtained and adjusted with sampling weights. Healthcare access measures were described by type of disability.


Mobility disability had the highest prevalence of 45.9 (44.8-47.0) % in 2016 and 48.4 (47.3-49.5) % in 2017 among respondents with COPD. The prevalence of disabilities was highest among those 45-64 years old, except for hearing and cognition. Hearing disabilities were most prevalent among males with COPD while cognitive and mobility disabilities were most prevalent among females with COPD. While differences in the prevalence of disabilities were observed, access to health care was similar by disability type and age group among respondents.


Contrary to expectation, the highest prevalence of disabilities was found not to be among those 65 years old and above. Further research is needed to explain this age-specific shift in the burden of disability, as long-term care planning and prevention support systems should be informed by the demographical patterns of disabilities among individuals with COPD.