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Coping Techniques Help COPD Patients Improve Mentally and Physically

Patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could boost their quality of life and improve physical symptoms by using coaches to “manage stress, practice relaxation and participate in light exercise.” That is according to a study by researchers from Duke University Medical Center posted on Psychosomatic Medicine.

Researchers utilized telephone-based coaching to determine if step-by-step instruction in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, tensing and releasing muscles, and tips to manage reactions to stressful events would improve patient quality of life.

The study was conducted over five years and included a total of 298 patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with COPD. One group was provided with phone consultations that included specific coping techniques. A control group of 151 patients also received phone counseling, but it was limited to topics such as medication and nutrition.”

While the study showed no direct improvement of COPD-related hospitalizations or deaths, the low-cost approach could “enhance quality of life, reduce distress and somatic symptoms, and improve physical functioning for patients,” according to researchers.

James Blumenthal, Ph.D., with the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke, stated that many “patients with COPD do not often seek mental health services,” even though, based on the findings, they “could be a valuable treatment for patients with other chronic conditions.”

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