BACKGROUND: It is widely recognized that health-related quality of life (HRQL) is impaired in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), but there is a lack of research on longitudinal associations of COPD and HRQL. This study examined the effects of COPD in early stages of disease on HRQL over ten years in a working-age general population setting in Southern Germany while considering the influence of common comorbidities. METHODS: In the population-based KORA F4 study (2006-08) 1,321 participants aged 41-61 years performed spirometry and reported information on HRQL (measured by the generic SF-12) and comorbidities. For the same participants, HRQL information was available seven years before and three years after the lung function test from the previous S4 (1999-2001) and the F4L follow-up study (2010). Using linear mixed models, the physical and mental component summary scores (PCS-12 / MCS-12) of the SF-12 were compared over time between COPD groups. RESULTS: 7.8% of participants were classified as having COPD (according to the LLN definition and the Global Lungs Initiative), 59.4% of them in grade 1. Regression models showed a negative cross-sectional association of COPD grade 2+ with PCS-12 which persisted when comorbidities were considered. Adjusted mean PCS-12 scores for the COPD grade 2+ group were reduced (-3.5 (p = 0.008) in F4, -3.3 (p = 0.014) in S4 and -4.7 (p = 0.003) in F4L) compared to the group without airflow limitation. The size of the COPD effect in grade 2+ was similar to the effect of myocardial infarction and cancer. Over ten years, a small decline in PCS-12 was observed in all groups. This decline was larger in participants with COPD grade 2+, but insignificant. Regarding MCS-12, no significant cross-sectional or longitudinal associations with COPD were found. CONCLUSION: Despite small HRQL differences between COPD patients in early disease stages and controls and small changes over ten years, our results indicate that it is important to prevent subjects with airflow limitation from progression to higher grades. Awareness of HRQL impairments in early stages is important for offering early interventions in order to maintain high HRQL in COPD patients.
KeywordsCopd ; Health-related Quality Of Life ; Sf-12 ; Comorbidities ; General Population Study ; Longitudinal; Air-flow Obstruction; General-population; Economic-analysis; Never-smokers; Copd Severity; Lung-function; Impact; Prevalence; Bold; Care