BACKGROUND: Tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in America, claiming 450,000 lives annually. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, caused by smoking in the vast majority of cases, became the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2008. The burden of asthma, often exacerbated by tobacco exposure, has widespread clinical and public health impact. Despite this considerable harm, we know relatively little about the natural history of lung disease and respiratory impairment in adults, especially after smoking cessation.
METHODS/DESIGN: Our paper describes the design and rationale for using the 2004 Federal Bureau of Prisons tobacco ban to obtain insights into the natural history of respiratory diseases in adult men and women of different races/ethnicities who are imprisoned in federal medical facilities. We have developed a longitudinal study of new prison arrivals, with data to be collected from each participant over the course of several years, through the use of standardized questionnaires, medical chart reviews, lung function tests, six-minute walk tests, and stored serum for the analysis of present and future biomarkers. Our endpoints include illness exacerbations, medication and health services utilization, lung function, serum biomarkers, and participants' experience with their health and nicotine addiction.
DISCUSSION: We believe the proposed longitudinal study will make a substantial contribution to the understanding and treatment of respiratory disease and tobacco addiction.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_goldberg/372/