An understanding of the health inequities that surround the treatment and prevention of COPD is required to address the barriers that hinder improvement of care for underserved populations. This scoping review was conducted to identify the existing evidence of social factors that affect the health, health-care access, and health-care quality of patients with COPD within the United States, and to identify gaps in knowledge to help direct future research. We followed the guidelines from the Joanna Briggs Institute and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews. In July 2022, a literature search by using Ovid (Embase) and MEDLINE (PubMed) databases was conducted to identify articles on COPD, published between 2016 and 2021, written in English, and that investigated at least one health inequity as defined by the National Institutes of Health. All studies were screened for inclusion criteria and were extracted in a masked, duplicate manner. Each health inequity was investigated, extracted, and summarized. Thirty articles were screened in full text, and 19 were found to meet inclusion criteria. Common social factors investigated in the COPD literature included race/ethnicity, income, and education. Since the implementation of the National Institutes of Health’s sex and gender minority category in 2016, only one study within our sample examined LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer [or sometimes questioning], and others) patients with COPD. The least commonly investigated social factors that affect patients with COPD were rural/under-resourced (geography), sex and gender, and LGBTQ+ affiliation. In addition, occupational status was not investigated by any included studies in our sample. Our scoping review underlines the lack of research with regard to inequities that affect patients with COPD. We propose researching hormone replacement therapy’s impact on lung function in transgender and nonbinary patients with COPD. Implementation science studies are suggested to enhance intervention for COPD medication adherence among racial/ethnic minority groups, given the intersectionalities of social factors that disproportionately affect this population. We, also recommend developing telemedicine pulmonary rehabilitation technology for rurally located patients with COPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-249
Number of pages12
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • COPD
  • LGBTQ+
  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • inequities
  • race
  • sex


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