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COPD - A Clinical and Public Health Challenge

lungsChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has a substantial impact on the Canadian healthcare system. In the current medical landscape, COPD alone is responsible for more than 20% of hospitalizations, 25% of emergency department visits, more than 20% of primary care visits, 30% of home care services, and 35% of placements into long-term care homes.[1] According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, COPD was the third leading cause of death worldwide[2], yet it represents a public health challenge that is both preventable and treatable. The grim statistics associated with COPD are only expected to grow - it is estimated that COPD in Canada will have direct health care system costs of approximately $10 billion by 2024.[3]

To help Canadian physicians manage COPD, we have worked in association with the Lung Health Foundation to develop a free, evidence-based, online CPD program that aligns with the latest Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) guidelines.

In a case-based 45-minute course, "My dad just died of COPD, will it happen to me?": Approach to the Initial Assessment of COPD, you will learn essential information that will enable you to:

  • Identify the risk factors, potential causes, and indicators of COPD.
  • Assess a patient for possible COPD, and apply the steps involved in establishing the diagnosis.
  • Explain the basic principles of spirometry, interpret spirometry results, and support a diagnosis of COPD based on spirometry.
  • Integrate management principles into your practice and carry out the general care of patients with COPD.
  • Provide advice to your patients about possible disease trajectories and secondary prevention strategies.

We will be expanding the program shortly with other courses to address pharmacotherapy and management of COPD. If you are interested in keeping up to date with the program - subscribe to receive program alerts.

Christopher Allen MA, BM, BCh, FRCPC, FRCP
Associate Clinical Professor, Division of Respirology, Department of Medicine
McMaster University
Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton

This e-learning activity is a form of self-study using enduring materials (e-learning modules) as defined by the Maintenance of Proficiency (Mainpro+®) Program of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). Self-study using e-learning modules is included under the Non-Certified Self-Learning credit category. Any non-certified activity is generally eligible for one non-certified credit per hour.

This e-learning activity is a form of self-study using enduring materials (e-learning modules) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Self-study using e-learning modules is included as an example of a Section 2 activity. Reviewing enduring materials is generally valued at 0.5 credit per topic. However, additional research/self-study using e-learning can also be submitted as Personal Learning Projects (PLPs) where you will earn two (2) credits per hour.


[1] Gershon AS, Guan J, Victor JC, Goldstein R, To T. Quantifying health services use for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013;187(6):596-601.

[2] The top 10 causes of death. (2020, December 9). World Health Organization. Retrieved March 10 2021, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death

[3] Gershon, A., Thiruchelvam, D., Moineddin, R., Zhao, X. Y., Hwee, J., & To, T. (2017). Forecasting Hospitalization and Emergency Department Visit Rates for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Time-Series Analysis. Annals of the American Thoracic Society, 14(6), 867–873.