The BOLD (Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease) initiative is collecting country-specific data on the prevalence, risk factors and social and economic burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). BOLD employs strictly standardized, tested methods for conducting COPD surveys in the general population and offers central co-ordination that supports collaborators to successfully implement the protocol, quality control and analyse the data.

COPD prevalence is generally underestimated by health authorities because estimates have mostly relied on self-reported doctor-diagnosis, a notoriously unreliable source of information. There is an urgent need for up-to-date, reliable estimates of prevalence of disease based on spirometry testing. There is also a need to understand the main causes of disease in different regions of the world.

BOLD will provide governments and private and voluntary sectors with country-specific evidence on which to develop policy for disease prevention and provision of adequate care for those suffering from COPD, and offers an interactive model to estimate the economic burden of COPD.