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30-03-2010 | Respiratory | Article

CBT reduces anxiety and depression in COPD patients


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MedWire News: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for reducing levels of anxiety and depression in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), research shows.

Writing in the journal Respiratory Medicine, Minna Hynninen (University of Bergen, Norway) and team explain that anxiety and depression are very common in patients with COPD and can negatively affect physical health and reduce compliance with medical treatment.

However, they add that “although pharmacotherapy has been recommended as a treatment strategy for anxiety and depression in this patient group, significant obstacles implementing such interventions have been reported.”

To investigate whether CBT can benefit such patients, the researchers studied 51 COPD patients, aged at least 40 years, with scores greater than 15 on the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and/or greater than 13 on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)-II. None of the patients were enrolled in other comprehensive psychosocial interventions, such as pulmonary rehabilitation.

The participants were randomly assigned to seven weekly, 2-hour sessions of CBT (n=25) designed to help modify beliefs and change behavioral patterns that perpetuate or maintain psychological and somatic symptoms, or to a control group (n=26) that received standard care, and were followed-up at 2 and 8 months.

The researchers found that mean scores on the BAI among patients assigned to CBT fell from 17.2 at enrolment to 12.7 at 2 months and 11.0 at 8 months.

Similarly, mean scores on the BDI-II among patients assigned to CBT fell from 20.7 at enrolment to 14.8 at 2 months and 13.4 at 8 months.

There were no significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores among patients in the control group.

Hynninen and team conclude: “The findings indicate that CBT may provide rapid symptom relief for COPD patients with clinically significant anxiety and depression, and underline the need for integrating mental health care into the overall medical regimen for COPD.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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