Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the tenth cause of death in Singapore in 2014, and a significant burden to the healthcare system.
This study aims to assess current public awareness of COPD at a Singapore mall where a COPD day event is held concurrently.
A set of 12 questions adapted from 10-ACAQ (Athens COPD awareness questionnaire) – 4 demographic, 7 COPD-oriented and 1 contextual question – investigated the basic knowledge and awareness of COPD. The subjects were public, aged 18 and above, conveniently sampled during a COPD awareness campaign organized outside a shopping mall on 21 November 2015.
A total of 82 males and 78 females were surveyed. 65% have never heard of COPD. Of those 35% who have heard, 90% were not aware that it refers to chronic bronchitis and emphysema while 28% incorrectly identified the commonest symptoms. The awareness level of smokers was lower (9%) compared to non-smokers (35%) – 31% of smokers had the misconception that COPD is pneumonia.
Amongst those surveyed, 32.5% were unaware that COPD is a top ten cause of death in Singapore, 25% incorrectly identified COPD as a contagious disease, and 12.5% had the misconception that current or ex-smokers are not at a higher risk of COPD.
Our results are comparable to the Athens study conducted in 2002 which found that: out of the 47% surveyed who had heard of COPD, 72% were unaware of what it truly is.
In summary, the awareness of COPD in the Singapore public is low, highlighting the need for interventions aimed at educating the public about it. Also, a larger survey sample would also be preferred to validate the findings of this study.