Gender Differences in the Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), has generally been thought of as a ""man's disease."" However, there has been a substantial increase in the prevalence and mortality of COPD in women recently, with a tripling of the female mortality rate over the past 20 years compared with a stable mortality rate in men over that same time period. The increased prevalence and mortality of COPD in women has been attributed to an increase in smoking rates in women, which began over 50 years ago. Recent studies have shown that women may be more susceptible to the effects of cigarette smoke compared to men. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that a gender bias may exist with respect to diagnosis; specifically, that women may be more likely to be diagnosed with asthma, and men with COPD, regardless of their underlying condition. Furthermore, studies have shown that a smaller proportion of women compared to men are not referred for diagnostic testing for COPD, or do not receive optimal pharmacotherapy. Using data from the BC Linked Health Database and the PharmaNet database, Dr. Pat Camp is conducting an in-depth analysis of the management and health outcomes of COPD in women compared with men. The goals of Dr. Camp's research are designed to identify gender differences with respect to diagnostic test utilization, hospitalization rates and medication usage. Dr. Camp is also investigating what, if any, impact age and region of residence have on diagnostic testing, medications and hospitalizations in people with COPD. The results of Dr. Camp's research will allow for specific messages and targeted interventions to be developed that facilitate better care and improved quality of life of people living with COPD.