Objective: The aim of this study was to review research on psychological characteristics in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and to summarize the findings of associations between psychological variables and various aspects of life, illness, and health in COPD patients.
Methods: The following databases were searched: Medline, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library.
Results: A total of 81 studies, published between 1968 and 2004, was identified. The reviewed studies indicated that patients suffering from COPD have a high prevalence of psychological disorders and may function at a reduced level of efficiency due to neuropsychological impairments. Psychological characteristics also seemed to be associated with functional disability and reduced quality of life.
Conclusion: Psychological characteristics are important variables that interact with physical symptoms, and they should be taken into account when treating COPD patients. More studies with rigorous methodological designs are needed to describe the role of psychological variables in COPD accurately and reliably.