The UK NSC recommendation on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed August 2018
Next review due in 2021/22
Key downloads

Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

The most recent review of scientific publications on COPD recommended against a national screening programme to detect Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at an early stage.


The review found that:

  • There is not an accurate test to detect early COPD.
  • The best treatment for early COPD is to stop smoking.
  • Medicines for early COPD have not yet been proven to be effective
  • However, evidence does exist that identifying COPD in people with symptoms is cost effective and there are national guidelines for doctors to follow.

More about COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.

People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing  of their airways, this is called airflow obstruction.

Typical symptoms of COPD include:

  • increasing breathlessness when active
  • a persistent cough with phlegm
  • frequent chest infections

» Read more about the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on NHS UK


Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS)
British Geriatrics Society
British Lung Foundation
British Society of Lifestyle Medicine
British Thoracic Society
Faculty of Public Health
Primary Care Respiratory Society UK
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Related documents

icon Summary and consultation responses on screening for COPD (PDF document, 371KB, 18/12/13)

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