Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a set of progressive lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and other small-airways disease. An estimated 16 million individuals in the U.S. have COPD, resulting in over 800,000 hospitalizations per year with a hospital readmission rate close to 25%. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer; COPD-related direct and indirect health costs have been estimated to be approximately $50 billion per year. COPD prevalence rates vary substantially by state, with the highest rates in states in the Southeast and Midwest. The COPD prevalence rate is estimated to be about 12% for individuals living in rural communities compared to 7% across the U.S. However, there has been limited research and policy analysis on healthcare access and quality issues for individuals with COPD, with even less focus on individuals with COPD who live in rural communities. This project aims address the large gap in the literature on key access and quality issues for the rural population with COPD by describing the prevalence of COPD in rural areas, and demographic characteristics and health status measures for rural patients with COPD; assessing access to care and availability of needed care and services for rural COPD patients; examining rural hospital COPD readmission and mortality measures and exploring data sources for future analyses of quality of care for rural COPD patients; and identifying strategies to help improve access to care for rural COPD patients.
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