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Eur Respir J. 2005 Aug;26(2):242-8.

Are patients with COPD psychologically distressed?

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  • 1Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centre, Hornerheide, Horn, The Netherlands.


This study was designed to assess the level of psychological distress in a heterogeneous group of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and compare them with the general population and psychiatric outpatients. A total of 118 patients with COPD, a random sample of 500 subjects from the general population and 500 psychiatric outpatients participated in this study. The Dutch version of the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised was used to assess general psychological distress. The sample of patients with COPD experienced significantly more psychological distress than the general population and significantly less than psychiatric outpatients. Furthermore, no significant association was found between the severity of the pulmonary disease and the level of psychological distress, although patients with severe or very severe COPD appeared to be at increased risk of depression. Lastly, the pattern of psychological complaints seems comparable in depressed patients with COPD and psychiatric outpatients. Once patients with COPD report suffering from depressive symptoms, the level of distress seems to increase to that found in psychiatric outpatients. In conclusion, in clinical settings in which psychological complaints are not routinely assessed, the Beck Depression Inventory and Symptom Checklist-90-Revised are very useful for drawing attention to depression and psychological distress.

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