Purpose: Depressive symptoms, physiologic function, and cognition were examined in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after 3 weeks of rehabilitation.
Methods: Patients with COPD completed measures of depression, neuropsychological function, exercise, and spirometry before and after a 3-week rehabilitation program. The 30 rehabilitation patients with COPD were compared with 29 untreated patients with COPD and 21 healthy controls similar in age, education, and gender.
Results: A significant group by time interaction effect was found on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). A significant interaction effect was also found on the 6-minute walk. Patients in the COPD rehabilitation program had decreased depressive symptoms and increased 6-minute walk distance compared with the untreated groups. Across the 3 groups, no significant interaction effects were found on neuropsychological tests. However, clinically significant improvement in sustained visual attention, verbal retention, and visuospatial ability were reported in the most impaired patients with COPD in the rehabilitation group.
Conclusion: Compared with control groups, decline in depressive symptoms and increased exercise capacity occurred in patients with COPD after brief rehabilitation. Clinical improvement in visual attention, verbal memory, and visuospatial functions occurred in the impaired patients with COPD participating in treatment. Neurobehavioral improvements after such a brief rehabilitation intervention are relevant for clinical care and warrant continued investigation in well-designed clinical trials.