PURPOSE: To evaluate availability of spirometry and symptom data in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (United Kingdom) to assess COPD severity using the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 2016 definition and comparing it with an algorithm used in other studies.
METHODS: This was a descriptive, noninterventional, secondary database cohort study of patients with COPD aged 40 years or older, who initiated treatment with specific COPD medications. Patients were classified according to COPD severity (1) in GOLD 2016 "ABCD" categories based on symptoms (Medical Research Council dyspnea grade, COPD Assessment Test, breathlessness), percent predicted FEV1, and exacerbation history and (2) as mild, moderate, severe, or very severe based on treatment and exacerbation history.
RESULTS: The study included 63 900 patients with COPD aged 40 years or older that were new users of 1 or more COPD medication of interest. Percent predicted FEV1 was available for 80.9% of patients; symptoms for 75.6% of patients. Classification into GOLD 2016 ABCD categories was possible for 75.6% of the patients. The GOLD 2016 ABCD definition classified more patients under the high-risk categories (22.1%, A; 18.8%, B; 21.3%, C; 37.9%, D) than did the adapted algorithm (7.9%, mild; 48.6%, moderate; 42.1%, severe; 1.4%, very severe).
CONCLUSION: Using our adaptation of the GOLD 2016 COPD severity classification, the information in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink allowed us to ascertain COPD severity in approximately 75% of patients with COPD. Algorithms that include medication use tend to misclassify patients with the extreme COPD severity categories.