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J Psychosom Res. 2013 Feb;74(2):110-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.09.022. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

The role of social support in anxiety for persons with COPD.

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University of California, San Francisco, Department of Medicine, USA.



This study examined the contribution of perceived social support to the presence of anxiety in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


A cross-sectional survey sample of 452 persons with COPD (61.3% female; 53.5% older than 65; 70.8% without a college degree or higher educational achievement, and 54.8% with household income of $40,000 or less) completed a telephone survey. Measures included the anxiety subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-A), 5 social support subscales from the Positive and Negative Social Exchanges (PANSE) Scale, a COPD Severity Score (CSS; a weighted algorithmic combination of symptoms and the need for various COPD medical interventions), and the Geriatric Depression Scale, Short Form (GDS-SF). Zero order correlations and a series of multiple regression analyses were calculated.


Multiple regression analysis revealed that the receipt of instrumental support, feeling let down by the failure of others to provide needed help, and unsympathetic or insensitive behavior from others each positively predicted a higher level of patient anxiety in COPD patients, after controlling for demographic variables, smoking status, comorbid depression (GDS) and severity of illness (CSS). Additionally, the control variable of depression was the strongest predictor of anxiety, suggesting a high degree of co-morbidity in this sample.


Anxiety and depression are serious co-morbid mental health concerns for persons with COPD. It is important to examine both positive and negative aspects of perceived social support for COPD patients and how they may impact or interact with these mental health concerns.

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