The researchers chose a telephone-based counseling approach because many patients awaiting lung transplantation live far from their assigned transplant center and do not relocate until they move toward the top of the waiting list. Other patients are physically unable to make frequent trips outside the home for counseling.
Nationwide, lung patients remain on the transplant waiting list for up to two years, on average, until a suitable organ becomes available.
The trial followed 328 patients on the transplant waiting list at Duke Hospital or Washington University's Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Most of the patients needed a transplant because their lungs had been damaged by cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The researchers administered a battery of psychological and physical tests to patients and then randomly assigned them to treatment groups. The patients assigned to telephone counseling received 30-minute counseling sessions each week for 12 weeks. The researchers provided the patients with information about how to manage stress and trained them in such coping skills as relaxation techniques and problem solving. After 12 weeks, all participants retook the same initial battery of tests.
Although the patients who received telephone counseling saw marked improvements in all the measures of psychosocial and quality-of-life, they showed little difference in measures of physical health or mortality, Blumenthal said.
During the course of the trial, 29 participants died, and 16 of them were in the group that received coping skills counseling. The difference in death rates between the groups was not statistically significant, the researchers said.
"The absence of a survival benefit from coping skills training was not unexpected, given the severity o
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center