USPSTF: Do Not Screen Asymptomatic Adults For COPD

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a new draft recommendation against screening asymptomatic adults for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The recommendation updates a 2008 recommendation against regular screening of asymptomatic patients, but does not apply to patients with family history of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, or those with chronic cough or wheezing.

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In a systematic review of research available since the 2008 recommendation, researchers examined how screening for COPD affected the quality of life, morbidity, and mortality of asymptomatic individuals, the delivery of targeted preventive services, and the potential harms of early screening and treatment of mild COPD.

“The USPSTF found no evidence that screening for COPD in asymptomatic persons with questionnaires or spirometry improves health outcomes,” they wrote in their recommendation.

“There are no data to suggest that screening for COPD before the development of symptoms affects treatment decisions, alters the course of the disease, or improves patient outcomes.”

“Thus, screening is not recommended in persons who do not have symptoms suggestive of COPD.”

The USPSTF noted the need for long-term treatment trials of screen-detected patients, as well as trials assessing the efficacy of screening current and former smokers are needed.

The grade D draft recommendation will be available for public comment until September 14, 2015.

—Michael Potts


USPSTF. Draft recommendation statement: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: screening. Published August, 2015.