Concomitant diagnosis of asthma and COPD: a quantitative study in UK primary care

Francis Nissen (Lead / Corresponding author), Daniel R. Morales, Hana Mullerova, Liam Smeeth, Ian J. Douglas, Jennifer K. Quint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) share many characteristics and symptoms, and the differential diagnosis between the two diseases can be difficult in primary care. This study explored potential overlap between both diseases in a primary care environment.

Aim: To quantify how commonly patients with COPD have a concomitant diagnosis of asthma, and how commonly patients with asthma have a concomitant diagnosis of COPD in UK primary care. Additionally, the study aimed to determine the extent of possible misdiagnosis and missed opportunities for diagnosis.

Design and setting: Patients with validated asthma and patients with validated COPD in primary care were identified from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) in separate validation studies, and the diseases were confirmed by review of GP questionnaires.

Method: The prevalence of concurrent asthma and COPD in validated cases of either disease was examined based on CPRD coding, GP questionnaires, and requested additional information.

Results: In total, 400 patients with COPD and 351 patients with asthma in primary care were identified. Of the patients with validated asthma, 15% (n = 52) had previously received a diagnostic COPD Read code, although COPD was only likely in 14.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 11.3 to 19.0) of patients with validated asthma. More than half (52.5%, n = 210) of patients with validated COPD had previously received a diagnostic asthma Read code. However, when considering additional evidence to support a diagnosis of asthma, concurrent asthma was only likely in 14.5% (95% CI = 11.2 to 18.3) of patients with validated COPD.

Conclusion: A concurrent asthma and COPD diagnosis appears to affect a relative minority of patients with COPD (14.5%) or asthma (14.8%). Asthma diagnosis may be over-recorded in people with COPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e775-e782
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number676
Early online date24 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Electronic health records
  • Epidemiology
  • Primary health care
  • Validation studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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