Treating COPD patients for anxiety by implementing certain cognitive behavioural therapy techniques has shown to reduce hospital visits and be cost effective.
According to a study now published in ERJ Open Research, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have shown reduction in anxiety symptoms and the cognitive behavioural therapy techniques implemented by respiratory nurses has also shown to significantly reduce the amount of hospital visits, therefore being more cost effective.
What do you know about COPD and cognitive behavioural therapy techniques?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a long-term chronic condition that causes inflammation in the lungs, narrowing of the airways and damaged to the lung tissue, essentially making breathing difficult.
Severe anxiety often occurs alongside those suffering from COPD and can mean that patients do less physical activity, leading to loss of fitness, isolation, and deteriorating health overall.
Dr Karen Heslop-Marshall, a Nurse Consultant at Newcastle-upon-Tyne NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, UK, was lead researcher on the study. She explains: “One of the main symptoms of COPD is breathlessness. This is very frightening and often leads to feelings of anxiety. Many healthcare professionals do not currently screen COPD patients for symptoms of anxiety, even though it can have an impact on their overall health.
“Feeling anxious has a negative impact on patients’ quality of life and leads to more frequent use of healthcare resources. We wanted to test whether one-to-one CBT sessions delivered by respiratory nurses could reduce symptoms of anxiety and whether this could be a cost-effective intervention.”
However, this new study has found that the implementation of cognitive behavioural therapy techniques sessions with respiratory nurses has reduced the feelings of anxiety for patients with COPD and resulted in less frequent use of A&E and hospital services.
After checking the hospital attendance records of patients in the study, the researchers found that that for each patient who attended the therapy and implemented cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, there was an average saving of £1,089 for hospital admissions and £63 for emergency room attendances.
The data also showed no link between a patients’ lung function, measured by how much air a person can breathe out in one second, and their anxiety score. Therefore, the researchers suggest that even patients with mild COPD can feel extremely anxious, and so would benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.
Heslop-Marshall said: “We found that one-to-one cognitive behavioural therapy techniques delivered by respiratory nurses could reduce symptoms of anxiety and that this could be a cost-effective intervention. Although the CBT intervention initially resulted in added costs, as respiratory nurses required training in CBT skills, this was balanced by the savings made thanks to less frequent need of hospital and A&E services.
“Reducing the levels of anxiety patients experience has a significant impact on their quality of life as well as their ability to keep physically active and may improve survival in the long-term. Our research shows that front-line respiratory staff can deliver this intervention efficiently and effectively.”
The importance of implementing cognitive behavioural therapy techniques
“This research highlights how using a multidisciplinary approach in the treatment of COPD can reduce the burden on patients and healthcare services.” Heslop-Marshall concludes.
“Treating patients for co-existing conditions such as anxiety contributes greatly to improving their overall health, and these methods can be cost-effective. Care provided by dedicated and properly trained healthcare professionals also allows for early referral of patients with more serious mental health conditions to even more specialised care tracks.”