A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials conducted by a research team at the Aarhus University, Denmark suggests that psychosocial intervention may be beneficial in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study entitled, “Efficacy of Psychosocial Interventions on Psychological and Physical Health Outcomes in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics used a statistical technique called meta-analysis for combining the findings from twenty independent studies with a total of 1,361 patients.
COPD affects about 10% of the population worldwide, severely impairing lung function. The disease is highly disabling due to breathlessness (dyspnea), cough, and excessive sputum production. In addition, COPD patients also have symptoms of anxiety and depression. Several studies suggest the potential of psychosocial intervention in the medical treatment of COPD, though a thorough systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate psychosocial interventions in both psychological and physical outcomes in COPD is lacking.
This new study concluded that cognitive behavioral therapy improved psychological outcomes. On the other hand, only mind-body interventions (e.g. mindfulness-based therapy, yoga, and relaxation) had a significant positive impact in physical outcomes. The data did not allow for any conclusions about the long-term maintenance of these effects, as the majority of included studies did not present follow-up data in their analysis.
Overall, although it appears appropriate to recommend psychosocial intervention alongside the already established medical treatment, the authors of the study are cautious: “(…) clinicians, researchers and policy makers should be aware that, due to statistical power issues and the possible tendency towards publishing positive and significant findings, the robustness of the results presented here cannot be fully ensured and should therefore be interpreted with some caution.”
In other developments in COPD, Harmonica Techs, inventor of the Pulmonica, recently shared the results of seventy-eight pulmonary and cardiovascular rehabilitation professionals who completed a survey regarding breathing disorder treatments. Three quarters of the professionals said that they observed improvements in spirometry results in their patients with all of the listed interventions in the survey. The results revealed that 59 healthcare professionals (of the 78) observed improved spirometry results following a pulmonary rehabilitation program that included monitoring, exercise, and education. The majority of the attendees were pulmonary rehabilitation professionals.