Assessing COPD: Why You Do It

COPD is like asthma in a number of ways. First, they’re both respiratory conditions. And they make breathing hard. Next, they’re chronic conditions. That is to say, they don’t go away. Last, treatments manage both conditions. Indeed, doctors recommend different treatment methods. But how do you know that treatments are working? By assessing your COPD! You do this with assessments.

What are assessments? The truth is, they’re different things. Most COPD assessments are questionnaires. They’re completed one of two ways. One, you complete them. This makes them self-assessments. Next, your doctor asks you questions. This makes them self-reported. Very few COPD assessments are procedures. But they’re technically assessments.

Now you know a little more about COPD assessments. In short, they let you know how effective your treatments are. That is to say if your COPD is really managed. But they do a little more than that. Your doctors use assessments to determine your best health outcomes. Also, they update your diagnosis. In short, if you have other health conditions that affect your COPD.

Guidelines for Assessing Your COPD

Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)

The GOLD isn’t a procedure. Nor is it an assessment. It’s a guideline. It’s a compilation of evidence-based resources that healthcare professionals use to prevent, manage, and treat COPD.

Formal Procedures for Assessing Your COPD

CT Scans

Procedures tell you a bit more about your condition. For example, CT scans. CT scans are a common procedure. Especially for COPD. So much so that they diagnose COPD. How? CT scans look at your chest. So your doctor can see any airflow limitation and the extent of your lung damage. In short, they’re good for determining the extent of your condition. Unfortunately, questionnaires can’t do this. So your healthcare provider will likely use a combination of assessments.

Questionnaires for Assessing Your COPD

Assessing your COPD isn’t a one size fits all approach. Yes, some assessments are more widely used than others. But they’re all good assessments. Let’s look at the first group of assessments: self-assessments. Remember, these are assessments you complete.

Assessing COPD With Self-Assessments

COPD Assessment Test (CAT)

This questionnaire is recommended by the GOLD. There are many reasons to explain this. First, it’s electronic. You complete it online. But you have the option to download a paper copy. Next, it’s quick and easy to complete.

The CAT measures COPD’s impact on your well-being and quality of life. Your results do two things. First, they give an idea of COPD’s burden on your life. Next, your doctor determines appropriate treatment methods based on your results.

Completing This Assessment

It’s easy to complete. How easy? You answer 8 questions. That’s right, only 8 questions. And these questions are based on your experience with different COPD symptoms. Each question is worth 0-5 points. 0 means you don’t experience any symptoms. On the other hand, a 5 means you experience frequent symptoms. Add your scores together to get a total score. This indicates COPD’s health impact. In fact, higher scores mean there’s a greater burden. So you’ll work with your healthcare provider to find an appropriate treatment.

COPD Clinical Questionnaire (CCQ)

This is another questionnaire for assessing your COPD. Much like the CAT, it measures your health status. Next, it measures your quality of life. Also, it indicates your COPD burden. Finally, your doctor uses it to guide treatment. Sounds great. But how does the CCQ do this?

Completing This Assessment

You answer 10 questions. Questions are split across 3 domains. First, your symptoms. Second, any functional limitations. Third, mental implications. Each question is worth 0-6 points. Add your scores together to get a total score. Then, you divide by 10. This score gives information on your health-related quality of life. Similar to the CAT, higher numbers mean a greater impact.

Assessing Your COPD With Self-Reported Assessments

Next are self-reported assessments. The biggest difference between self-assessments and self-reported assessments is who completes them. Technically, you’re answering the questions. But with self-reported assessments, someone asks you the questions to get important information. The good thing about these assessments is that many of them are modified to be self-assessments!

St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ)

This assessment is widely used. Also, it’s very similar to self-assessments. That is to say, it measures COPD’s impact on your health, daily living, and well-being. The best part is the SGRQ is a free assessment!

Completing This Assessment

There are 50 questions. The questions are divided into two parts. First, COPD symptoms within 1, 3, or 12 months. Second, activity limitations. Scores range from 0-100 points. Much like the self-assessments, higher scores mean a greater health burden.

Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (CRDQ)

Finally, we have the CRDQ. It’s a little different from the others. Yes, it looks at COPD’s burden on your health status. But it also looks at the physical and emotional impact.

Completing This Assessment

There are 20 questions. Questions are split across 4 domains. Each question is worth up to 7 points. The score’s weight for this assessment is reversed. That is, a 1 means there’s a significant impact. On the other hand, a 7 means there’s no impact. But that’s not the only difference. In fact, high scores are good. They mean that you have fewer COPD implications. So you have a better health-related quality of life.