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COPD education and cognitive behavioral therapy group treatment for clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety in COPD patients: a randomized controlled trial

  • M. E. Kunik (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4) (a5), C. Veazey (a6), J. A. Cully (a1) (a2) (a3) (a5), J. Souchek (a1) (a2) (a4), D. P. Graham (a1) (a2) (a3) (a5), D. Hopko (a7), R. Carter (a8), A. Sharafkhaneh (a2) (a4), E. J. Goepfert (a3), N. Wray (a1) (a2) (a4) and M. A. Stanley (a1) (a2) (a3) (a5)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 October 2007

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects 14 to 20 million Americans and is associated with increased prevalence of affective disorders, contributing significantly to disability. This study compared cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) group treatment for anxiety and depression with COPD education for COPD patients with moderate-to-severe anxiety and/or depressive symptoms.


A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted between 11 July 2002 and 30 April 2005 at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX. Participants were 238 patients treated for COPD the year before, with forced expiratory value in 1 second (FEV)1/forced vital capacity (FVC)<70% and FEV1<70% predicted, and symptoms of moderate anxiety and/or moderate depression, who were being treated by a primary care provider or pulmonologist. Participants attended eight sessions of CBT or COPD education. Assessments were at baseline, at 4 and 8 weeks, and 4, 8 and 12 months. Primary outcomes were disease-specific and generic quality of life (QoL) [Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ) and Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36 (SF-36) respectively]. Secondary outcomes were anxiety [Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)], depressive symptoms [Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II)], 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) and use of health services.


Both treatments significantly improved QoL, anxiety and depression (p<0.005) over 8 weeks; the rate of change did not differ between groups. Improvements were maintained with no significant change during follow-up. Ratios of post- to pretreatment use of health services were equal to 1 for both groups.


CBT group treatment and COPD education can achieve sustainable improvements in QoL for COPD patients experiencing moderate-to-severe symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: M. E. Kunik, M.D., M.P.H., Houston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies, Michael E. DeBakeyVAMC (152), 2002 Holcombe, Houston, TX 77030, USA. (Email:
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