About Breathe Well 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Group on Global COPD in Primary Care was set up in 2017. It is a partnership between the University of Birmingham, the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) and primary care or public health research teams in  Brazil, China, Republic of North Macedonia and Georgia. IPCRG facilitated the introductions. The partnership is known as Breathe Well.

The problem Breathe Well addresses

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term incapacitating respiratory condition. The Global Burden of Disease Study for 2016 estimates 251 million people worldwide suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  It is currently the 4th  leading cause of death worldwide.  COPD is also a major cause of morbidity due to persistent symptoms, reduced lung function and intermittent exacerbations that adversely affect functional status and quality of life.  Around 90% of COPD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and it disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged populations. 

The main causes of COPD, including smoking and exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, are more common in LMICs. However, awareness of COPD and its causes is very low.  Access to diagnosis and treatment services is also inadequate. Over half of people who have COPD do not know they have the condition and are not receiving treatment which could help them. Services to help smokers quit are patchy, inhaler medications are often too expensive and other forms of effective treatment eg education, support for physical activity and management of breathlessness are rarely available. 

Improving access to healthcare and identification of cost-effective approaches for earlier detection, smoking cessation and pulmonary rehabilitation for people with COPD are part of the WHO four global priorities for non-communicable diseases.


The Breathe Well partnership's aims

The aim of the Breathe Well partnership is to foster research in primary care and the community to improve the diagnosis, management and prognosis of COPD patients in low and middle income countries. Together we aim to: 

  • Develop and consolidate a sustainable collaboration and shared vision;
  • Strengthen local research capacity in the partner countries in community-based COPD research and generic population research methods;
  • Co-create a local plan for evaluating approaches for identifying undiagnosed COPD in the community, adapted to cultural needs and local healthcare infrastructure;
  • Adapt evidence-based behavioural approaches for management of COPD according to cultural needs and the local healthcare infrastructure and assess the feasibility of their implementation;
  • Build a robust platform for future collaborative research with the partner countries and other similar settings. 

The Breathe Well partnership 

Dr Rachel Jordan






Dr Rachel Jordan

The Breathe Well partnership is led by the University of Birmingham,  which has developed an international track record in COPD research in community/primary care settings. The directors of the Breathe Well collaboration are Dr Rachel Jordan, Reader in Epidemiology and Primary Care at the University of Birmingham, and Professor Peymané Adab, Professor of Public Health and Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the University of Birmingham.  

IPCRG is a member of the Breathe Well partnership and leads on clinical engagement, communication and dissemination using its extensive primary care network.

Professor Peymané Adab

Professor Peymané Adab

Contact Breathe Well

More information about the Breathe Well research team at the University of Birmingham and their work is available here.

To contact the Breathe Well team, please email us at breathewell@contacts.bham.ac.uk


News and Events  

Breathe Well studies have now received full ethics approval and have been registered on ISRCTN. Training visits and web sessions have bene conducted with all study teams and we have recruited our first participants in Republic of North Macedonia and Georgia! Well done to everyone involved!  Participant recruitment in Brazil and China will be underway within the next month

Find out more about conferences that might be of interest for Breathe Well networking and knowledge dissemination here.



More information about the Breathe Well countries, the research outputs and the partnership are available by clicking on the links below. 




The research is commissioned by the UK NIHR using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.