Background: Chronic cough and phlegm are frequently reported chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms. Prior research classified chronic mucus hypersecretion (CMH) based on the presence of these symptoms for ≥3 months, called chronic bronchitis (CB) if respiratory infection symptoms were present for 1–2 years (Medical Research Council [MRC] definition). We explored whether the COPD Assessment Test (CAT), a simple measure developed for routine clinical use, captures CMH populations and outcomes similarly to MRC and St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) definitions. Methods: We identified CMH in the SPIROMICS COPD cohort using (a) MRC definitions, (b) SGRQ questions for cough and phlegm (both as most/several days a week), and (c) CAT cough and phlegm questions. We determined optimal cut-points for CAT items and described exacerbation frequencies for different CMH definitions. Moderate exacerbations required a new prescription for antibiotics/oral corticosteroids or emergency department visit; severe exacerbations required hospitalization. Results were stratified by smoking status. Results: In a population of 1431 participants (57% male; mean FEV1 % predicted 61%), 47% and 49% of evaluable participants had SGRQ-or CAT-defined CMH, respectively. A cut-point of ≥2 for cough and phlegm items defined CMH in CAT. Among SGRQ-CMH+ participants, 80% were also defined as CMH+ by the CAT. CMH+ participants were more likely to be current smokers. A higher exacerbation frequency was observed for presence of CMH+ versus CMH− in the year prior to baseline for all CMH definitions; this trend continued across 3 years of follow-up, regardless of smoking status. Conclusion: Items from the CAT identified SGRQ-defined CMH, a frequent COPD trait that correlated with exacerbation frequency. The CAT is a short, simple questionnaire and a potentially valuable tool for telemedicine or real-world trials. CAT-based CMH is a novel approach for identifying clinically important characteristics in COPD that can be ascertained in these settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health