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09-05-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Being young, free, and single no boost in COPD


Free abstract

medwireNews: Research shows that patients with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD)-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience more anxiety the younger they are.

But the study findings indicated that younger patients experienced more depression, worse health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and more breathlessness only if they were single.

"These results suggest that being in a relationship is an important social resource for younger individuals with AATD-associated COPD," say authors Kristen Holm (Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, USA) and colleagues.

They add: "Additional resources may also be important, including the quality of relationships with family members and the strength of friendship networks."

The study included 468 US and Canadian patients with AATD-associated COPD who responded to questionnaires at baseline, and at 1- and 2-years' follow up. The mean age was 60 years but ranged from 32 to 84 years, with a mean time since diagnosis of 12 years. Overall, 365 (78.0%) patients were in a couple.

Age at baseline was significantly associated with anxiety and HRQoL, such that each year increase in age was associated with a 0.09-point decrease on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (mean: 5.2), and a 0.29-point decrease in St George's Respiratory Questionnaire score (mean: 46.9).

Analysis of the interaction between age, relationship status, and outcomes showed that while younger individuals reported more symptoms of anxiety than older patients, regardless of relationship status, the effect of age on depression, HRQoL, and breathlessness was only significant in patients who were single.

Holm and colleagues say that these "results suggest that younger individuals with AATD-associated COPD, particularly those who are single, have unique needs due to their young age at onset of a serious chronic disease."

Writing in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, they suggest that, unlike older patients, younger individuals with COPD do not expect to have chronic diseases and physical limitations, and may perceive a greater discrepancy between their health and that of their peers.

The authors say their results may be applicable to the wider COPD population who may also be diagnosed at a wide range of ages, and that this warrants further research.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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