Exploring the Impact of Socioeconomic Status on COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a significant global health issue and has many factors contributing to its occurrence and course, one of these factors being socioeconomic status. It has been revealed that socioeconomic status and ethnicity have a substantial impact on COPD outcomes. In the following, we will dive into the relationship between socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and health disparities in COPD patients.
While a lower socioeconomic status is linked to worse COPD outcomes, this in fact is not a direct result of limited healthcare access, but of more subtle barriers. These are for instance travel distance, work schedule flexibility, and patient-provider communication. These factors are said to indirectly contribute to unfavorable COPD outcomes due to late diagnosis of COPD in the course of disease, which potentially explains the observed associations between lower socioeconomic status and poorer COPD health outcomes.
It is also suggested that socioeconomic status influences the physical and social environment, which is an indirect effect on disease severity and health outcomes. The physical environment includes the region of residence and exposure level to outdoor and indoor air pollution. It is already known that particulate air pollution and nitrogen dioxide are linked to a greater risk of COPD-related hospitalizations. Workplace exposures to dust, for instance, could also adversely affect COPD outcomes. Click here to learn more about occupational COPD.
The socioeconomic status also has an influence on the social environment, that is clearly affecting COPD outcomes. While greater social support is associated with improved physical functioning of COPD patients, there is a complex interplay of factors like neighborhood problems, social support, and social capital. Hence, further research is required to understand the relationship between socioeconomic status and COPD disparities completely.
Regarding ethnicity, the disparities in observed outcomes in different ethnic groups were entirely explained by differences in socioeconomic status and other factors, including comorbidities, smoking history, body mass index, and occupational exposures.
In conclusion, an inverse relationship between socioeconomic status and COPD outcomes is being consistently demonstrated. This is why it is valuable to address the relationship between socioeconomic status and health outcomes in COPD, as it is an important part of understanding and managing COPD, a disease that is complex and multifaceted. Lower socioeconomic status consistently predicts adverse COPD outcomes due to various reasons, including disparities in healthcare access, physical environment, and social environment. Yes, it is indeed critical to address risk factors like smoking, occupational exposures, and obesity, however the understanding of the abovementioned relationship is also crucial to ensure equitable care and improved outcomes for all individuals affected by this debilitating condition.
We, as Breathment, are developing accessible solutions to overcome the healthcare discrepancies caused by socioeconomic differences. When healthcare moves to an online platform, those services are more democratized and less dependent on where you live, when you can visit the clinic etc. Additionally, we too are of the opinion that more research with patients means gaining a better understanding of them, helping us provide better and improved service to ease their COPD symptoms. This is why we are conducting our own clinical research on COPD and supporting centers that are dedicated to this cause. Book your first online appointment to find out more about our approach to respiratory care and about the Breathment Therapy App.