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Why is Anxiety Common Among COPD Patients?

Findings from a recently released study from COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, illustrated that “levels of anxiety are up to three times higher in older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than in patients without COPD.”

Why is this?

June2016004The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto, sampled more than 11,000 adults (50 years of age or older), measuring for “sociodemographic factors, social support, health behaviors, sleep problems, pain, functional limitations and early childhood adversities.” Based on these factors, the research team determined that of the more than 700 adults that reported their COPD diagnosis, “one in 17 had anxiety within the past year, or about 5.8 percent.”

Lead study author, Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, noted that “even after accounting for 18 possible risk factors for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), individuals with COPD still had 70 percent higher odds of GAD compared to those without COPD.”

So, what are the risk factors associated?

The study was able to determine that “lack of social support and exposure to parental domestic violence during the patients’ childhoods” was one of the leading factors. Additionally, “older adults without social support involved in their important decision making had more than seven times the odds of having anxiety in comparison with the patients who did have a friend or social support.” In participants who had been exposed to ten incidences or more of parental domestic violence, “their odds for anxiety in comparison to the adults without COPD rose to about five times the risk” of those patients without COPD.

The study’s aim was to highlight the need for healthcare provider’s participation in “identifying and providing promising interventions to reduce anxiety for individuals with COPD, in particular by screening for and addressing pain and functional limitations and targeting those most at risk.”

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