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Respir Med. 2010 Jul;104(7):986-94. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2010.02.020. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

A randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depression in COPD.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Bergen, Christies gt 12, N-5015 Bergen, Norway.



Previous research indicates a high prevalence of untreated anxiety and depression in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The current study examined the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in groups for co-morbid, clinically significant anxiety and depression in COPD outpatients of both sexes.


In a randomized, controlled trial, CBT (n = 25) was compared with enhanced standard care (n = 26). Participants in both conditions were followed up at 2 and 8 months from baseline. Main outcome measures comprised the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory-II. Measures of health status and sleep were included as secondary outcomes. The effects of sex and age were also investigated.


CBT resulted in improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression, with effect sizes of 1.1 and 0.9 at post-treatment, respectively. The improvement was maintained at the 8-month follow-up, with effect sizes of 1.4 and 0.9. In the control group, there was no significant change. Compared to men, women had higher symptom levels throughout the whole study period. Younger patients had more anxiety and depression, age had also differential effects in the two groups on change in depressive symptoms. Changes in sleep and health status were small in both groups.


The findings indicate that CBT may provide rapid symptom relief for COPD patients with clinically significant anxiety and depression, and underline the need for integrating mental health care into the overall medical regimen for COPD.

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