BACKGROUND: Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD. However, there is low COPD awareness among smokers. We conducted a field survey to investigate COPD awareness, optimistic bias associated with COPD, and COPD prevalence (using handheld spirometry) among current male smokers.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We enrolled currently smoking males aged over 40 years, who completed a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of six parts: 1) baseline demographics, 2) participants' awareness of COPD and pulmonary function tests, 3) presence of COPD-related respiratory symptoms and experience with pulmonary function testing, 4) optimistic bias about COPD, 5) willingness to change attitude toward respiratory health, and 6) preference of media for obtaining health-related information. Pulmonary function was assessed via handheld spirometry by two experienced pulmonary function laboratory technicians after completion of the questionnaire.
RESULTS: We enrolled 105 participants. Only 24.8% knew of COPD. Awareness of pulmonary function testing was reported by 41.9% of participants, and 30.5% had previously undertaken pulmonary function tests. Among the subjects who had not previously undergone pulmonary function tests, 47% were not aware of their existence. The mean optimistic bias scores were 3.9 and 4.0, respectively, reflecting the general perception, among participants, that they were about as likely to develop COPD as similarly aged smokers and friends, respectively. A total of 40.0% of participants perceived personal COPD risk to be lower than COPD risk among their friends. Abnormal handheld spirometry results were observed in 28.6% of participants. Among the subjects with abnormal handheld spirometry results, 36.7% had FEV1 values <50% of the predicted value.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, current male smokers had poor awareness of COPD. Participants perceived their risk of developing COPD to be no higher than their friends' COPD risk. Strategies to increase COPD awareness among high-risk groups should be developed.
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