Cohort profile: The Chikwawa lung health cohort; A population-based observational noncommunicable respiratory disease study in Malawi

Martin Njoroge, Sarah Rylance, Rebecca Nightingale, Stephen Gordon, Kevin Mortimer, Peter Burney, Jamie Rylance, Angela Obasi, Louis Niessen, Graham Devereux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose The Chikwawa lung health cohort was established in rural Malawi in 2014 to prospectively determine the prevalence and causes of lung disease amongst the general population of adults living in a low-income rural setting in Sub-Saharan Africa. Participants A total of 1481 participants were randomly identified and recruited in 2014 for the baseline study. We collected data on demographic, socio-economic status, respiratory symptoms and potentially relevant exposures such as smoking, household fuels, environmental exposures, occupational history/exposures, dietary intake, healthcare utilization, cost (medication, outpatient visits and inpatient admissions) and productivity losses. Spirometry was performed to assess lung function. At baseline, 56.9% of the participants were female, a mean age of 43.8 (SD:17.8) and mean body mass index (BMI) of 21.6 Kg/m2 (SD: 3.46) Findings to date Currently, two studies have been published. The first reported the prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms (13.6%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 11.9 – 15.4), spirometric obstruction (8.7%, 95% CI, 7.0 – 10.7), and spirometric restriction (34.8%, 95% CI, 31.7 – 38.0). The second reported annual decline in forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1] of 30.9mL/year (95% CI: 21.6 to 40.1) and forced vital capacity [FVC] by 38.3 mL/year (95% CI: 28.5 to 48.1). Future plans The ongoing current phase of follow-up will determine the annual rate of decline in lung function as measured through spirometry, and relate this to morbidity, mortality and economic cost of airflow obstruction and restriction. Population-based mathematical models will be developed driven by the empirical data from the cohort and national population data for Malawi to assess the effects of interventions and programmes to address the lung burden in Malawi. The present follow-up study started in 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Apr 22 2020


  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Cohort studies
  • Economic modelling
  • Non-communicable respiratory disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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