Change for rural COPD patients with National Action Plan

Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, COPD Foundation President; Dr. MeiLan Han, American Lung Association; Dr. James Kiley, NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases; and Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association. Source: NHLBI

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is number three on the cause of death list, with nearly 150,000 deaths every year. In rural America, it’s the sole major chronic disease with increasing death rates. In a 2015 American Thoracic Society abstract, Johns Hopkins researchers reported a national prevalence rate of 7.2 percent, but a prevalence rate of 11.9 percent in rural-poor communities.


With this substantial disease prevalence comes substantial healthcare costs. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2013-2014 expenditures for COPD and asthma reached nearly $77 billion, with inpatient costs nearing those of cancer.


A 2014 report by the Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center shows the disparity to be most pronounced among men, among whom the death rates were 53 percent higher in nonmetropolitan counties than in large metropolitan counties in 2008-2010.


In May, the COPD National Action Plan (CNAP), a blueprint for a multi-faceted, unified fight against the disease was released by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), in official partnership with the CDC. A national action plan can be the start to gearing up efforts needed to make a difference for COPD. The COPD National Action Plan’s Rural Touchpoints include five goals:

  • Empower patients, their families and caregivers to recognize/reduce burden.
  • Equip healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care.
  • Collect, analyze, report and disseminate data.
  • Increase and sustain research.
  • Turn recommendations into research and public healthcare actions.

Rural stakeholders share perspectives of just how rural Americans with COPD might benefit from the plan’s rural touchpoints at