Background: We hypothesized that compared to an educational intervention, a single 2 h session of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), with 6-week follow-up, would reduce anxiety and depression, improve physical and mental functioning, and lead to a better quality of life and greater satisfaction with treatment in older patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: Fifty-six subjects were recruited from a large, urban, academically affiliated Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, a non-profit private hospital, and a local newspaper, for a single blind randomized controlled clinical trial. One 2 h session of group CBT was designed to reduce symptoms of anxiety, with specific components including relaxation training, cognitive interventions, and graduated practice, followed by homework and weekly calls for 6 weeks. This was compared to a group that received 2 h of COPD education, followed by weekly calls. Pre- and post-intervention subjects in both groups were administered SF-36, Geriatric Depression Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, 6 min walk test, and the FEV-1. Following the intervention, both groups completed the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire.
Results: When compared with a group that received education about COPD, 2 h CBT group showed decreased depression and anxiety. Contrary to our hypothesis, despite the decrease in depression and anxiety, there was no change in the physical functioning of the patients.
Conclusions: Twenty to 40% of patients with COPD have high levels of anxiety and depression. Our study finds that as little as 2 h of CBT administered in a group setting is able to reduce these anxious and depressive symptoms.