Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): key data sources

Primary care data

Practice Team Information

Until 2012/13, the Practice Team Information (PTI) programme provided information on GP consultations for COPD in Scotland. This information can be used to estimate the national prevalence of COPD using information collected from a representative sample of GP practices. However, the PTI system was discontinued in September 2013 and will be replaced by the Scottish Primary Care Information Resource (SPIRE). Historical information on COPD consultations and prevalence estimates up to 2012/13 are available from the PTI pages of the ISD website.

Scottish Primary Care Information Resource

The Scottish Primary Care Information Resource (SPIRE) is a new national GP information system currently in development – it supersedes and builds on the data collected for PTI. SPIRE aims to include richer data from a greater number of practices and will help to inform public health surveillance, research and data linkage. Further benefits will see the creation of a mechanism to feedback data analysis to practices and an improved data extraction process

Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)

The General Medical Services contract for general practices, introduced in 2004, includes a voluntary Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). The QOF measures achievement against a range of evidence-based indicators and includes quality indicators for COPD. The advantage of this data source is its national level of coverage; one important disadvantage is that only aggregated data are available, so that it is not possible to adjust for age or other differences when making comparisons between populations. QOF data on COPD are briefly reviewed in the primary care data part of this section. Detailed statistics on quality achievements and on prevalence of COPD in the QOF are available from the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) section of the ISD website.

Until April 2006, QOF definitions did not allow patients to be on both asthma and COPD registers - thus patients with a degree of reversible airways disease were not included on the COPD register. As revised rules now allow patients to be included on both COPD and asthma registers, comparisons in QOF-based prevalence before and after this time should be made with caution.

The introduction of the QOF may also have affected the recording of COPD in primary care. A wide range of diagnoses (using their respective Read codes) are included in the definition of  COPD used to calculate QOF indicators. Since the introduction of the QOF it is likely that GPs have been careful not to use these codes unless they specifically wanted to include a patient on the COPD register.

Secondary care data

Statistics on hospital admissions for COPD are held in the Scottish Morbidity Record (SMR) databases. Data from SMR01 are presented in the section on secondary care data. Click here for an overview of SMR01 data.

Mortality data

Mortality data by underlying cause of death (including COPD) are published annually by the National Records of Scotland (NRS, formerly the General Register Office for Scotland). COPD mortality data are briefly reviewed in the mortality data part of this section. Detailed statistics for individual causes of death are published by NRS in the annual Vital Events Reference tables.