Community Subcontractor Program

NHLBI’s COPD Learn More Breathe Better® 2018-2019 Community Subcontractor Program

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s COPD Learn More Breathe Better® Community Subcontractor Program provides support to organizations around the country to enhance outreach efforts around chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and further the goals of the COPD National Action Plan.

In July 2018, six organizations received funding:

The selected organizations focused on a variety of aspects of prevention and intervention. Activities ranged from COPD education; empowerment of those living with COPD, their family members, and caregivers; trainings for health care providers focused on early detection, diagnosis, and treatment; and improved resources for those at higher risk for the disease. Combined, the efforts reached communities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

This is the fourth time the COPD Learn More Breathe Better program supported organizations in their geographically-targeted, community-level awareness efforts. COPD Learn More Breathe Better and the NHLBI expect these organizations will continue to build on their activities to address the burden of COPD at the local level. An overview of each organization’s program is provided below.

Atrium Health
- Community Subcontractor Program

Atrium Health to Harness the Power of Children to Advance COPD Awareness and Education

Starting in July 2018, Atrium Health set out to learn more about kids’ awareness of COPD and the role they play in talking about the disease with their parents and grandparents, who may be at risk. To engage children, Atrium Health hosted events at their local family science museum, located in the Greater Charlotte area in North Carolina, where families and their children could learn about COPD and its risk factors. Student ambassadors at the museum also helped facilitate interactions with a lung display and a spirometer to show kids how COPD can be diagnosed.

In addition to onsite education, Atrium Health invited families to participate in the KIDS4COPD social media challenge by asking them to learn about COPD, post a photo with the hashtag #KIDS4COPD, and talk to their family about the disease. These posts aimed to generate COPD conversations on social media, and over the course of a few months, KIDS4COPD received over 690,000 impressions.

Atrium Health also conducted surveys and focus groups to further understand youth preferences for social media advocacy regarding COPD. These findings inspired the development of a social media toolkit.

Social media card encouraging kids to to talk about COPD with family


Breathe New Hampshire
- Community Subcontractor Program

Breathe New Hampshire to Bolster Tobacco-Use Treatment and Enhance Collaboration in Effort to Reduce the Burden of COPD

Smoking is the number one risk factor for COPD. In New Hampshire, the smoking rate is well above the national average, which is why Breathe New Hampshire focuses their efforts on increasing awareness and education about smoking-related COPD. The organization worked with partners across Greater Manchester to disseminate their Tobacco-Use Disorder toolkit that includes resources to help primary care physicians and nurse care coordinators increase conversations about smoking and lead referrals to the NH Quitline. In addition, Breathe New Hampshire hosted trainings for over 35 health care professionals to share best practices and approaches to help more people stop smoking, ultimately helping them reduce their risk for COPD.

Breathe New Hampshire also organized and led first discussions through the COPD Communication Collaborative, a national platform offering organizations the opportunity to share best practices and key learnings on activities being pursued to achieve the goals of the COPD National Action Plan. To date, the organization has held two webinars focusing on goals one and two of the Action Plan. To learn more, visit the Breathe New Hampshire website.

COPD Foundation
- Community Subcontractor Program

The COPD Foundation’s Rural Health Initiative—a Path to Improving the Quality of COPD Care in Rural Tennessee

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners play a vital role in providing care for those living with COPD – particularly in rural areas. The COPD Foundation’s subcontractor program set out to equip health professionals, who may not be specialized in respiratory health, in rural Tennessee, with the knowledge and resources to diagnose and treat people living with the disease. Their pilot initiative, Teaching and Outreach in Underserved Communities and Health Improvement (or TOUCH COPD), provided training opportunities, webinars and workshops to professionals in the state. Through various events, TOUCH COPD offered practical skills to help effectively treat patients. In addition, professionals trained by the TOUCH COPD initiative continued to share their knowledge by training others at their rural health care facilities.

After the pilot program, 67 percent of participants said that the information shared through the TOUCH COPD initiative improved their level of care for COPD patients. About 83 percent said the knowledge improved the level of care in their rural health care facilities. The COPD Foundation plans to continue their discussions with facilities throughout the state to schedule additional trainings and to ultimately increase their reach in rural communities.

Respiratory Health Association
- Community Subcontractor Program

Respiratory Health Association Works to Empower COPD Caregivers

While the greatest focus in COPD education and care is on those at risk for or living with the disease, fewer resources exist to address the needs of informal caregivers. A study found that 35 percent of informal COPD caregivers report having health-related problems due to their caregiving role. To better help this often overlooked audience, the Respiratory Health Association developed a COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit, a resource designed to provide informal caregivers a comprehensive overview of what they need to know to care for themselves in addition to their loved ones with COPD. This subcontract helped to disseminate their toolkit to over 200 informal caregivers in the Midwest and to assess its contents and impact.

Findings from their research on usability and usefulness of the toolkit are being used to further refine the resource to address the evolving needs of those impacted by COPD. This is an important step to make sure these individuals have access to information and strategies that can be used at every stage of the caregivers’ journey.

South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative
- Community Subcontractor Program

South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative Targets Rural Health Clinics for COPD Education and Care Program 

Smoking rates are highest among those living in rural areas, and considering it is the main risk factor for COPD, it should come as no surprise that prevalence of COPD is also higher in rural areas compared to urban. With this knowledge, the South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative (SCTFC) worked closely with health care providers from rural health clinics across the state to develop and distribute their custom change package. The package supplied health care providers with tobacco intervention materials and tools to help empower their patients to quit smoking and refer them to the state’s tobacco quitline.

In partnership with South Carolina’s Office of Rural Health, the SCTFC also hosted a training attended by 30 health care providers representing 17 rural health clinics. Attendees learned how to use the CDC’s brief tobacco intervention tool and were provided with more information on how the custom change package can ultimately improve COPD outcomes.

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine
- Community Subcontractor Program

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Goes Beyond Health Care Settings to Provide Care

COPD is a leading cause of death in Michigan. Over 634,200 people have been diagnosed, and it is likely that more people live with the disease but remain unaware. Because of this, the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) wanted to increase awareness about COPD in their community. During this subcontract, the medical school launched a community education program involving an interdisciplinary team of medical students, respiratory therapists, primary care physicians, and nurses to conduct outreach events throughout Kalamazoo. During the events, the team educated members of the community about a variety of aspects of COPD, including risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease. WMed was also able to purchase a portable spirometer so they could demonstrate and conduct spirometry tests and encourage those at risk for COPD to talk to their health care provider.

WMed reached over 300 people with their events, conducted over 50 spirometry tests and 25 inhaler-use assessments over the course of the subcontract. The organization further amplified the reach of their program by developing and launching an eight-week long billboard campaign highlighting the common signs and symptoms of COPD.

Image of a billboard with symptoms of COPD: short of breath, coughing and wheezing