Additionally, the researchers believe that efforts to treat the depression could possibly improve the outcomes after lung transplantation. While their study focused on patients awaiting transplantation, the researchers say that what they are learning about depression could also help other patients with severe lung disease, such as the estimated 16 million Americans who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
"These findings represent an example of how psychological factors can impact physical health," said pulmonologist Scott Palmer, M.D., medical director of Duke's lung transplantation program. "The effect of depression is quite striking in predicting a lung patient's quality of life as well as their perceived shortness of breath.
"The findings also suggest that while we have many medical treatments for these patients, if we don't address the issue of anxiety and depression we might have less impact on their quality of life, and possibly their ultimate outcomes," Palmer added.
Palmer prepared the results of the Duke study for presentation today (May 20) during the 98th annual international conference of the American Thoracic Society.
Their report is the first analysis of data being collected on patients awaiting lung transplants enrolled in a five-year, $2.6 million trial funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The trial's goal is to determine whether a telephone-based program of stress and anxiety reduction conducted prior to transplant has any effect on outcomes after surgery. During the course of the trial, Duke and Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University,
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center