Kantonsspital St.Gallen

"Can do, don't do" are not the lazy ones: a longitudinal study on physical functioning in patients with COPD

Noriane A Sievi, Thomas Brack, Martin Brutsche, Martin Frey, Sarosh Irani, Jörg D Leuppi, Robert Thurnheer, Malcolm Kohler & Christian F Clarenbach


Reduced physical capacity (PC) and physical activity (PA) are common in COPD patients and associated with poor outcome. However, they represent different aspects of physical functioning and interventions do not affect them in the same manner. To address this, a new PC-PA quadrant concept was recently generated to identify clinical characteristics of sub-groups of physical functioning. The objective of this study was to I) proof the new concept and to verify their differentiating clinical characteristics, II) evaluate the consistency of the concept over time, III) assess whether patients changed their quadrant affiliation over time, IV) and to test if changes in quadrant affiliations are associated with changes in clinical characteristics.

In a longitudinal, prospective, non-interventional cohort with mild to very severe COPD patients, PC and PA as well as respiratory variables, COPD-specific health status, comorbidities, survival, and exacerbations were yearly assessed.

Data from 283 patients were analysed at baseline. Mean (min/max) follow-up time was 2.4 (0.5/6.8) years. The PC-PA quadrants could be characterized as follows: I) "can't do, don't do": most severe and symptomatic, several comorbidities II) "can do, don't do": severe but less symptomatic, several comorbidities III) "can't do, do do": few patients, severe and symptomatic, less comorbidities IV) "can do, do do": mildest and less symptomatic, less comorbidities, lowest exacerbation frequency. Of the 172 patients with at least one follow-up, 58% patients never changed their quadrant affiliation, while 17% declined either PC, PA or both, 11% improved their PC, PA or both, and 14% showed improvement and decline in PC, PA or both during study period. None of the clinical characteristics or their annual changes showed consistent significant and relevant differences between all individual sub-groups.

Our findings suggest that there are no clinical characteristics allowing to distinguish between the PC-PA quadrants and the concept seems not able to illustrate disease process. However, the already low PA but preserved PC in the "can do, don't do" quadrant raises the question if regularly assessment of PA in clinical practice would be more sensitive to detect progressive deterioration of COPD compared to the commonly used PC.

www.ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01527773.
citation Sievi N A, Brack T, Brutsche M, Frey M, Irani S, Leuppi J D, Thurnheer R, Kohler M, Clarenbach C F. "Can do, don't do" are not the lazy ones: a longitudinal study on physical functioning in patients with COPD. Respir Res 2020; 21:27.
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 20-01-2020
journal title Respir Res (21/1)
ISSN electronic 1465-993X
pages 27
PubMed 31959169
DOI 10.1186/s12931-020-1290-9