Article Text


Diagnostic accuracy of screening tests for COPD: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Background Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is widely underdiagnosed. A number of studies have evaluated the accuracy of screening tests for COPD, but their findings have not been formally summarised. We therefore sought to determine and compare the diagnostic accuracy of such screening tests in primary care.

Methods Systematic review and meta-analysis of the diagnostic accuracy of screening tests for COPD confirmed by spirometry in primary care. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and other bibliographic databases from 1997 to 2013 for diagnostic accuracy studies that evaluated 1 or more index tests in primary care among individuals aged ≥35 years with no prior diagnosis of COPD. Bivariate meta-analysis of sensitivity and specificity was performed where appropriate. Methodological quality was assessed independently by 2 reviewers using the QUADAS-2 tool.

Results 10 studies were included. 8 assessed screening questionnaires (the COPD Diagnostic Questionnaire (CDQ) was the most evaluated, n=4), 4 assessed handheld flow meters (eg, COPD-6) and 1 assessed their combination. Among ever smokers, the CDQ (score threshold ≥19.5; n=4) had a pooled sensitivity of 64.5% (95% CI 59.9% to 68.8%) and specificity of 65.2% (52.9% to 75.8%), and handheld flow meters (n=3) had a sensitivity of 79.9% (95% CI 74.2% to 84.7%) and specificity of 84.4% (68.9% to 93.0%). Inadequate blinding between index tests and spirometry was the main risk of bias.

Conclusions Handheld flow meters demonstrated higher test accuracy than the CDQ for COPD screening in primary care. The choice of alternative screening tests within whole screening programmes should now be fully evaluated.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42012002074.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

Statistics from

Review history and Supplementary material

  • Supplementary Data

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.