Chronic respiratory disease surveys in adults in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic scoping review of methodological approaches and outcomes.

19 Jun 2021


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.

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Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • Chronic Respiratory Disease
Respiratory topics
  • Global Health
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Hanafi NS, Agarwal D, Chippagiri S, Brakema EA, Pinnock H, Sheikh A, Liew SM, Ng CW, Isaac R, Chinna K, Wong LP, Hussein N, Abu Bakar AI, Pang YK, Juvekar S, Khoo EM