• Peter Elmegaard Adelhelm
  • Morten Korsgaard
4. term, Public Health, Master (Master Programme)
Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) constitutes the third largest cause of
mortality worldwide, and in Denmark an estimated population of 430.000 are currently living with
the disease, half of which are considered undiagnosed. COPD develops over a vast amount of time
and the symptoms are typically not emerging prior to a 50 percent decrease of pulmonary
function. Late diagnosis of COPD is problematic due to the fact that the number of treatment
options decreases and the effectiveness of treatment declines, the later treatment is initiated. Thus,
initiating early diagnosis contains the potential to prevent further development of disease.
Research question: In which ways can the Danish efforts of early detection and diagnosis of
COPD be improved, so that patients suffering from COPD are diagnosed earlier during
development of disease?
Method: To investigate the research question, two scientific methods are applied. A semi-
structured qualitative interview with professor of tobacco prevention Charlotta Pisinger was
conducted which later underwent a thematic analysis. In addition, a systematic literature search
was conducted to form the basis for a review of existing scientific literature.
Luhmann’s systems theory was applied to the synthesis of interview and literature review results.
The systems’s theory was introduced to gain insight in the process of early detection and diagnosis
of patients with COPD and facilitating changes of present practice.
Results: Analysis of the conducted interview resulted in the emergence of 4 themes. The
systematic literature review resulted in the inclusion of 14 scientific studies. Results of synthesized
analysis lead to the suggestion of 3 recommendations of change: 1) An update of current
professional guidelines and an upscaling of the opportunistic COPD screenings 2) Involvement of
other health professionals 3) The introduction of a proactive targeting vulnerable groups of the
Conclusion: This thesis suggests that an implementation of the three recommendations of change
is able to facilitate an alteration of the current Danish practice of early detecting patients with
COPD, whereby patients can be identified in earlier stages of illness.
Publication date2 Jun 2020
Number of pages92
ID: 333418369