Differential impact of physical activity type on depression in adults with congenital heart disease: A multi-center international study

J Psychosom Res. 2019 Sep:124:109762. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2019.109762. Epub 2019 Jul 5.


Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between physical activity (PA) and depression in a large international cohort of adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD) as data about the differential impact of PA type on depression in this population are lacking.

Methods: In 2018, we conducted a cross-sectional assessment of 3908 ACHD recruited from 24 ACHD-specialized centers in 15 countries between April 2013 to March 2015. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was used to assess self-reported depressive symptoms and the Health-Behavior Scale-Congenital Heart Disease was used to collect PA information. Cochran-Armitage tests were performed to assess trends between depressive symptom levels and PA participation. Chi-Square and Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests were utilized to examine relations between depressive symptom levels and patient characteristics. Stepwise multivariable models were then constructed to understand the independent impact of PA on depressive symptoms.

Results: The overall prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms in this sample was 12% with significant differences in rates between countries (p < .001). Physically active individuals were less likely to be depressed than those who were sedentary. Of the 2 PA domains examined, sport participation rather than active commute was significantly associated with reduced symptoms of depression. After adjustment in multivariable analysis, sport participation was still significantly associated with 38% decreased probability of depressive symptoms (p < .001).

Conclusions: Sport participation is independently associated with reduced depressive symptoms. The development and promotion of sport-related exercise prescriptions uniquely designed for ACHD may improve depression status in this unique population.

Keywords: Adult congenital heart disease; Depression; Perceived health; Physical activity; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report