Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) contribute significantly towards the global burden of disease, but the true prevalence and burden of these conditions in adults is unknown in the majority of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to identify strategies – in particular the definitions, study designs, sampling frames, instruments, and outcomes – used to conduct prevalence surveys for CRDs in LMICs. The findings will inform a future RESPIRE Four Country ChrOnic Respiratory Disease (4CCORD) study, which will estimate CRD prevalence, including disease burden, in adults in LMICs.
We conducted a scoping review to map prevalence surveys conducted in LMICs published between 1995 and 2018. We followed Arksey and O’Malley’s six-step framework. The search was conducted in OVID Medline, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science, Global Health, WHO Global Index Medicus and included three domains: CRDs, prevalence and LMICs. After an initial title sift, eight trained reviewers undertook duplicate study selection and data extraction. We charted: country and populations, random sampling strategies, CRD definitions/phenotypes, survey procedure (questionnaires, spirometry, tests), outcomes and assessment of individual, societal and health service burden of disease.
Of 36,872 citations, 281 articles were included: 132 from Asia (41 from China). Study designs were cross-sectional surveys (n=260), cohort studies (n=11) and secondary data analysis (n=10). The number of respondents in these studies ranged from 50 to 512,891. Asthma was studied in 144 studies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 112. Most studies (100/144) based identification of asthma on symptom-based questionnaires. In contrast, COPD diagnosis was typically based on spirometry findings (94/112); 65 used fixed-ratio thresholds, 29 reported fixed-ratio and lower-limit-of-normal values. Only five articles used the term ‘phenotype’. Most studies used questionnaires derived from validated surveys, most commonly the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (n=47). The burden/impact of CRD was reported in 33 articles (most commonly activity limitation).
Surveys remain the most practical approach for estimating prevalence of CRD but there is a need to identify the most predictive questions for diagnosing asthma and to standardise diagnostic criteria.