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Archived Clinical Summary

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Screening

Originally published on: January 10, 2014

This recommendation statement is currently archived and inactive. It should be used for historical purposes only. Click here for copyright and source information .

Disclaimer:Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Archived: Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

This document is a summary of the 2008 recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on screening for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using spirometry. This summary is intended for use by primary care clinicians.

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Population Adult General Population
Recommendation Do not screen for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using spirometry
Grade: D
Additional Population Information

This screening recommendation applies to healthy adults who do not recognize or report respiratory symptoms to a clinician.
It does not apply to individuals with a family history of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

Risk Assessment

Risk factors for COPD include:

  • Current or past tobacco use.
  • Exposure to occupational and environmental pollutants.
  • Age 40 or older.
Screening Tests1

Spirometry can be performed in a primary care physician's office or a pulmonary testing laboratory. The USPSTF did not review evidence comparing the accuracy of spirometry performed in primary care versus referral settings.

For individuals who present to clinicians complaining of chronic cough, increased sputum production, wheezing, or dyspnea, spirometry would be indicated as a diagnostic test for COPD, asthma, and other pulmonary diseases.

Other Approaches to the Prevention of Pulmonary Illnesses

These services should be offered to patients regardless of COPD status:

  • All current smokers should receive smoking cessation counseling and be offered pharmacologic therapies demonstrated to increase cessation rates.
  • All patients 50 years of age or older should be offered influenza immunization annually.
  • All patients 65 years of age or older should be offered one-time pneumococcal immunization.
Relevant USPSTF Recommendations

Clinicians should screen all adults for tobacco use and provide tobacco cessation interventions for those who use tobacco products.

The USPSTF tobacco cessation counseling recommendation and supporting evidence are available at Primary Care Interventions to Prevent Tobacco Use in Children and Adolescents: August 2013.

1 The potential benefit of spirometry-based screening for COPD is prevention of one or more exacerbations by treating patients found to have an airflow obstruction previously undetected. However, even in groups with the greatest prevalence of airflow obstruction, hundreds of patients would need to be screened with spirometry to defer one exacerbation.

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making this recommendation, please go to the full supporting documents.

Copyright and Source Information

This document is in the public domain within the United States.

Requests for linking or to incorporate content in electronic resources should be sent via the USPSTF contact form.

Current as of: March 2008

Internet Citation: Clinical Summary: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Screening. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. December 2014.

USPSTF Program Office   5600 Fishers Lane, Mail Stop 06E53A, Rockville, MD 20857