Socio-economic factors, gender and smoking as determinants of COPD in a low-income country of sub-Saharan Africa: FRESH AIR Uganda

Frederik van Gemert*, Niels Chavannes, Bruce Kirenga, Rupert Jones, Sian Williams, Ioanna Tsiligianni, Judith Vonk, Janwillem Kocks, Corina de Jong, Thys van der Molen

*Corresponding author for this work

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In Uganda, biomass smoke seems to be the largest risk factor for the development of COPD, but socio-economic factors and gender may have a role. Therefore, more in-depth research is needed to understand the risk factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of socio-economic factors and gender differences on the COPD prevalence in Uganda. The population comprised 588 randomly selected participants (430 years) who previously completed the FRESH AIR Uganda study. In this post hoc analysis, the impact of several socio-economic characteristics, gender and smoking on the prevalence of COPD was assessed using a logistic regression model. The main risk factors associated with COPD were non-Bantu ethnicity (odds ratio (OR) 1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-2.82, P = 0.030), biomass fuel use for heating (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.03-3.00, P = 0.038), former smoker (OR 1.87, 95% CI 0.97-3.60, P = 0.063) and being unmarried (OR 0.087, 95% CI 0.93-2.95, P = 0.087). A substantial difference in the prevalence of COPD was seen between the two ethnic groups: non-Bantu 20% and Bantu 12.9%. Additional analysis between these two groups showed significant differences in socio-economic circumstances: non-Bantu people smoked more (57.7% vs 10.7%), lived in tobacco-growing areas (72% vs 14.8%) and were less educated (28.5% vs 12.9% had no education). With regard to gender, men with COPD were unmarried (OR 3.09, 95% CI 1.25-7.61, P = 0.015) and used more biomass fuel for heating (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.02-4.54, P = 0.045), and women with COPD were former smokers (OR 3.35, 95% CI 1.22-9.22, P = 0.019). Only a few socio-economic factors (i.e., smoking, biomass fuel use for heating, marital status and non-Bantu ethnicity) have been found to be associated with COPD. This applied for gender differences as well (i.e., for men, marital status and biomass fuel for heating, and for women being a former smoker). More research is needed to clarify the complexity of the different risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16050
Number of pages6
JournalPrimary Care Respiratory Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1-Sep-2016



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