Background. We hypothesized that compared to an educational intervention, a single 2 h session of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), with 6-week follow-up, would reduce anxiety and depression, improve physical and mental functioning, and lead to a better quality of life and greater satisfaction with treatment in older patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods. Fifty-six subjects were recruited from a large, urban, academically affiliated Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, a non-profit private hospital, and a local newspaper, for a single blind randomized controlled clinical trial. One 2 h session of group CBT was designed to reduce symptoms of anxiety, with specific components including relaxation training, cognitive interventions, and graduated practice, followed by homework and weekly calls for 6 weeks. This was compared to a group that received 2 h of COPD education, followed by weekly calls. Pre- and post-intervention subjects in both groups were administered SF-36, Geriatric Depression Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, 6 min walk test, and the FEV-1. Following the intervention, both groups completed the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire.
Results. When compared with a group that received education about COPD, 2 h CBT group showed decreased depression and anxiety. Contrary to our hypothesis, despite the decrease in depression and anxiety, there was no change in the physical functioning of the patients.
Conclusions. Twenty to 40 % of patients with COPD have high levels of anxiety and depression. Our study finds that as little as 2 h of CBT administered in a group setting is able to reduce these anxious and depressive symptoms.