Accuracy and cost-effectiveness of different screening strategies for identifying undiagnosed COPD among primary care patients (≥40 years) in China: a cross-sectional screening test accuracy study: findings from the Breathe Well group.

23 Sep 2021


To examine the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of various chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) screening tests and combinations within a Chinese primary care population.


Screening test accuracy study.


Urban and rural community health centres in four municipalities of China: Beijing (north), Chengdu (southwest), Guangzhou (south) and Shenyang (northeast).


Community residents aged 40 years and above who attended community health centres for any reason were invited to participate. 2445 participants (mean age 59.8 (SD 9.6) years, 39.1% (n=956) male) completed the study (February-December 2019), 68.9% (n=1684) were never-smokers and 3.6% (n=88) had an existing COPD diagnosis. 13.7% (n=333) of participants had spirometry-confirmed airflow obstruction.


Participants completed six index tests (screening questionnaires (COPD Diagnostic Questionnaire, COPD Assessment in Primary Care To Identify Undiagnosed Respiratory Disease and Exacerbation Risk (CAPTURE), Chinese Symptom-Based Questionnaire (C-SBQ), COPD-SQ), microspirometry (COPD-6), peak flow (model of peak flow meters used in the study (USPE)) and the reference test (ndd Easy On-PC).


Cases were defined as those with forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV)/forced vital capacity (FVC) below the lower limit of normal (LLN-GLI) on the reference test. Performance of individual screening tests and their combinations was evaluated, with cost-effectiveness analyses providing cost per additional true case detected.


Airflow measurement devices (sensitivities 64.9% (95% CI 59.5% to 70.0%) and 67.3% (95% CI 61.9% to 72.3%), specificities 89.7% (95% CI 88.4% to 91.0%) and 82.6% (95% CI 80.9% to 84.2%) for microspirometry and peak flow, respectively) generally performed better than questionnaires, the most accurate of which was C-SBQ (sensitivity 63.1% (95% CI 57.6% to 68.3%) specificity 74.2% (95% CI 72.3% to 76.1%)). The combination of C-SBQ and microspirometry used in parallel maximised sensitivity (81.4%) (95% CI 76.8% to 85.4%) and had specificity of 68.0% (95% CI 66.0% to 70.0%), with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £64.20 (CNY385) per additional case detected compared with peak flow.


Simple screening tests to identify undiagnosed COPD within the primary care setting in China is possible, and a combination of C-SBQ and microspirometry is the most sensitive and cost-effective. Further work is required to explore optimal cut-points and effectiveness of programme implementation.



Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Diagnosis
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
  • Breathe Well
Pan Z, Dickens AP, Chi C, Kong X, Enocson A, G Cooper B, Adab P, Cheng KK, Sitch AJ, Jowett S, Adams R, Correia-de-Sousa J, Farley A, Gale NK, Jolly K, Maglakelidze M, Maglakelidze T, M Martins S, Stavrikj K, Stelmach R, Turner AM, Williams S, E Jordan R