Older adults with COPD in good mental health

Of 703 individuals, more than 4 of 5 older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were free of mental illness or substance abuse (87%) and two-thirds (67%) were in excellent mental health, according to a recent study. representative published in International journal of environmental research and public health.

COPD is a leading cause of mortality and has been linked to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. However, the characteristics and contributing factors among individuals with COPD who are in complete mental health (CMH) have not been established. The authors of this new study estimated the prevalence or absence of mental illness among COPD patients and aimed to identify factors and characteristics that significantly contribute to the absence of psychiatric disorders (APD) and CMH among elderly with COPD.

“This research provides a message of great hope for people struggling with COPD, as well as their families and healthcare professionals,” said co-author Sally Abudiab, a recent graduate of the University’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. of Toronto, in a statement. “Our findings suggest that the vast majority of people with COPD are embracing their lives and thriving. I am in exceptionally good mental health despite the physical, mental and economic challenges of coping with COPD.

Data for this study are from the 2012 nationally representative Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health (CCHS-MH), which included 10,892 individuals 50 years of age and older diagnosed with COPD. Predictor variables such as demographics, socioeconomic status, social support, physical health, coping strategies, adverse childhood experiences, and lifelong mental health history were considered.

Researchers looked at multiple factors associated with burgeoning mental health:

  • Almost daily happiness or life satisfaction in the past month
  • High levels of social and psychological well-being in the last month
  • Freedom from generalized anxiety disorder and depressive disorders, suicidal thoughts and substance addiction for at least the entire prior year

Consequently, the unadjusted odds of APD without COPD were approximately 2 times higher than those with COPD (odds ratio [OR], 2.90; 95% CI = 2.23; 3.78). The unadjusted odds of CMH for those without COPD were 67% higher than for those with COPD (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.39-2.01).

Additionally, people with COPD who were socially isolated were at greater risk of having poor mental health than those who had at least 1 person they could talk to about important decisions.

The researchers believe that interventions that promote social support are needed to reduce social isolation and loneliness and highlight the importance of establishing targeted and accessible mental health support for people with COPD who are more vulnerable to worse health outcomes mental.

The results of this study had limitations, including its self-reported nature and cross-sectional study design, which made it unclear whether a diagnosis of COPD preceded APD and CMH.

Despite these limitations, the researchers found the results of this study encouraging. And for those individuals with COPD who also have mental illnesses, the researchers emphasized the need for targeted interventions and further investigation into racial barriers that may contribute to an individual’s mental health.

“Our findings underscore the importance of targeted outreach and referrals for people with COPD who are not thriving,” said senior study author Esme Fuller-Thomson, PhD, University of California, Berkely, in the statement. discuss the results.


Abudiab S, Fuller-Thomson E. Thriving despite chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Results from a nationally representative survey of Canadians 50 years of age and older. Int J Environment Res Public health. 2022;19(23):16337. doi:10.3390/ijerph192316337

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