Coping techniques help patients with COPD improve mentally, physically

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Coaching patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to manage stress, practice relaxation and participate in light exercise can boost a patient’s quality of life and can even improve physical symptoms, researchers at Duke Medicine report.

Duke researchers examined how telephone-based coaching could help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a progressive disease that limits airflow in the lungs.

About 15 million Americans have COPD, and it is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“COPD is an increasingly important public health problem. It’s a debilitating and distressing illness,” said author Scott Palmer, M.D., MHS, an associate professor of pulmonary medicine at Duke and medical director of the project. “Our work has established an innovative and important intervention that could improve patient quality of life. Although it has not translated into improved survival rates, this approach is worthy of further investigation.”

During the five-year study, which was based at Duke University Health System and Ohio State University, 147 COPD patients participated in coping skills training. Psychologists provided regularly scheduled phone sessions, offering patients and their caregivers general information about COPD, step-by-step instruction in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, tensing and releasing muscles, and ways to manage their reactions to stressful events

For comparison, psychologists provided a separate group of 151 patients with phone consultations on topics including medication and nutrition. They did not teach specific coping techniques.

Participants who received coping skills training reported improvements in their overall mental health, and lessened depression, anxiety, fatigue and shortness of breath when compared to the control group.

Although there were no improvements in COPD-related hospitalizations or deaths, the study suggests that the low-cost approach could enhance quality of life, reduce distress and somatic symptoms, and improve physical functioning for patients.

Source By : Science Daily

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