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Int J Nurs Stud. 1989;26(3):281-6.

Depression, somatization and steroid use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1University of Maryland, School of Nursing, Baltimore 21201.


Steroid therapy has become part of the adjunctive treatment for COPD patients in some settings. Emotional changes have been reported in some patients while on these medications, but whether these changes are associated with the pathophysiological state or a side effect of the medication is not known. In this study self-reports of depression and somatic complaints were compared between two groups of COPD patients, 20 not receiving steroids and 20 receiving steroids. Both groups demonstrated comparable levels of disease and somatic complaints. Mean FEV1 value for those not receiving steroids was 34% of predicted while the mean for those receiving steroids was 30% of predicted. Depression was found to be significantly higher (t = 11.21, df = 38, p less than 0.01) in the group receiving steroids when compared to those not receiving steroids using a Student's t test. The higher degree of depression among steroid treated COPD patients has implications for clinical practice. The emotional status of this group of patients needs to be monitored and interventions initiated when necessary.

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