General Announcement on National COPD Awareness Month

At the beginning of November, the following template language can be used for publishing on your websites, blogs, or newsletters.

November is National COPD Awareness Month

Chances are high that you know someone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). More than 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with this debilitating lung disease and it is estimated that millions more have it and don’t know. This November for National COPD Awareness Month, join [INSERT ORGANIZATION NAME] in raising awareness about COPD. Whether you’re a patient, caregiver, health care provider, advocate, or researcher, share your perspective. We all have a voice when it comes to COPD and we should use it to help people understand and recognize it earlier, so they can receive treatment to breathe easier.

Signs and symptoms of COPD such as shortness of breath, chronic coughing, and wheezing often come on slowly, which can delay diagnosis. Often, people mistake their breathing issues as a part of aging or a consequence of being out of shape. While there currently is no cure for COPD, early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve quality of life. National COPD Awareness Month is a great time to encourage others to recognize symptoms and talk to a health care provider.

For more information about COPD, visit [INSERT ORGANIZATION LINK] or the Learn More Breathe Better program at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/breathebetter.

Best Practices for Working with Media

Media may include your local newspaper, radio, or TV station. Often, email will be the first step in your outreach.

Keep in mind the following tips when reaching out to members of the media:

  • Tailor your email to the specific media outlet and reference why their audience should care about the topic. Examples include the impact in your state or community, an activity at a local organization or health care facility, or mention of a recent story that may be relevant.
  • Share data if you can. Use our talking points. Data can open the door to a larger conversation. This includes how many people in your state or region are affected by COPD. Take a look at the state shareables for specifics on the number of people diagnosed across the United States.
  • Offer a person willing to be interviewed. This can help clear the first hurdle for placing a story and offer a local angle.
  • Reporters often value already prepared content, such as pre-drafted quotes or developed materials like a PSA.
  • Follow-ups with the media outlet or reporter are generally appreciated.

General COPD Talking Points

These talking points are meant to be a conversation starter and can be used in external engagement efforts, including with members of the media, PSA directors at your local broadcast station, local health facilities, or the public in general.

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, is a serious lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe.
  • COPD is a leading cause of death in the United States and is also a leading cause of disability. While more than 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, it is estimated that millions more have the disease without knowing. Source: CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
  • According to the BRFSS, an annual survey conducted by the CDC, almost two-thirds of people diagnosed with COPD (63.8%) report that the disease has negatively impacted their life. Source: CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
  • Part of the reason for this disparity in diagnosis is that the symptoms of COPD, such as shortness of breath, chronic coughing, and wheezing, come on slowly and worsen over time. Many mistake these symptoms as a part of aging or a consequence of being out of shape and, as a result, will delay seeking a diagnosis. At the same time, health care providers state that one of the biggest barriers to diagnosing COPD earlier is that patients do not fully report their symptoms – signaling a communication gap in the exam room. Source: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/copd-tracking-perceptions-individuals-affected-and
  • Two of the biggest reasons people who have experienced symptoms consistent with COPD say they have not talked with their health care provider is that they just “didn’t think of it” or they “have had these problems for years.” Source: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/copd-tracking-perceptions-individuals-affected-and
  • CDC data reports that COPD is almost twice as common in rural areas of the United States than in urban areas. Source: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6824a1
  • Risk factors include a history of smoking (both current and former smokers), long-term environmental exposure to things that can irritate your lungs, as well as certain genetic conditions, such as alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency.
  • Seventy-five percent of COPD cases are directly associated with cigarette smoking. Source: 10.1378/chest.13-0809
  • Exposure to lung irritants — such as dust and chemicals in the workplace or other fumes — and exposure to secondhand smoke or air pollutants may contribute to COPD.
  • When left untreated, people with COPD gradually lose their stamina and their ability to perform daily activities.
  • The good news is that with proper diagnosis, COPD can be treated. And, it can be diagnosed by a health care provider during a regular office visit with a simple breathing test called spirometry.
  • While there is no cure for COPD, with early diagnosis and treatment, people with COPD can alleviate their symptoms and begin to get back to the things they love doing.
  • The first step is initiating that conversation in the exam room. By learning more about COPD, recognizing the symptoms, and talking with a health care provider, people with COPD can take the first step to breathing better.
  • For more information about COPD, visit [INSERT ORGANIZATION LINK] or the Learn More Breathe Better program at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/breathebetter