Go to content

Almost 1/4 of all hospital and ED visits in Ontario made by people with COPD: ICES study


Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) make up 12 per cent of the population but account for a significant proportion of all hospitalizations, emergency department visits, ambulatory care visits, long term care resident places and homecare use in the province of Ontario, according to new research done at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

“A great amount of the health services used by individuals with COPD were not directly for COPD but for comorbidities related to COPD—suggesting that they account for a large, and previously unappreciated, COPD disease burden,” says Andrea Gershon, lead author, ICES Scientist and Respirologist and Scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

This is the first large, real world study to quantify the complete impact of COPD and its comorbidity on various types of health services and reveal its overall burden on individuals and on the healthcare system. This new knowledge will help healthcare providers anticipate the needs of their own COPD patients and plan accordingly.

The cohort study examined individuals in Ontario, 35 years and older with physician-diagnosed COPD in 2008 and followed them 3 years. The study found:

  • People with COPD had a 24 per cent higher rate of hospitalizations and emergency department visits combined than the general population
  • People with COPD had a 63 per cent higher rate of hospitalizations than the rest of the population
  • People with COPD had a 85 per cent higher rate of emergency department visits than the rest of the population
  • People with COPD had a 48 per cent higher rate of doctor visits than the rest of the population
  • People with COPD had rates of long term care and homecare use that were, respectively, 56 percent and 59 per cent higher than the rest of the population

“COPD is a relatively neglected disease. But it has a huge impact, both directly and indirectly through its comorbidity, on various health services. Future study should confirm these findings in other countries and in clinical populations,” says Gershon.

Authors: Andrea S. Gershon, Jun Guan, J. Charles Victor, Roger Goldstein, Teresa To.

The study “Quantifying health services use for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” was published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.


Read the Journal Article