The 2011 GOLD (Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD]) consensus report uses symptoms, exacerbation history, and forced expiratory volume (FEV1)% to categorise patients according to disease severity and guide treatment. We aimed to assess both the influence of symptom instrument choice on patient category assignment and prospective exacerbation risk by category.
Patients were recruited from 21 centres in the USA, as part of the COPDGene study. Eligible patients were aged 45—80 years, had smoked for 10 pack-years or more, and had an FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC) <0·7. Categories were defined with the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) dyspnoea scale (score 0—1 vs ≥2) and the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ; ≥25 vs <25 as a surrogate for the COPD Assessment Test [CAT] ≥10 vs <10) in addition to COPD exacerbations in the previous year (<2 vs ≥ 2), and lung function (FEV1% predicted ≥50 vs <50). Statistical comparisons were done with k-sample permutation tests. This study cohort is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00608764. Findings 4484 patients with COPD were included in this analysis. Category assignment using the mMRC scale versus SGRQ were similar but not identical. On the basis of the mMRC scale, 1507 (33·6%) patients were assigned to category A, 919 (20·5%) to category B, 355 (7·9%) to category C, and 1703 (38·0%) to category D; on the basis of the SGRQ, 1317 (29·4%) patients were assigned to category A, 1109 (24·7%) to category B, 221 (4·9%) to category C, and 1837 (41·0%) to category D (