Depression symptoms associated with asthma patients' quality of life

May 02, 2000

Asthma patients who have more symptoms of depression report poorer health-related quality of life than do asthma patients who are not depressed, according to a new study.

The study involved 230 asthma sufferers who were patients in a primary care internal medicine practice in New York City. The patients' average age was 41 years, and they had had asthma for an average of 20 years. One-third of the patients said they had asthma flares at least weekly, and one in four considered their asthma to be very or extremely active.

All of the subjects answered a series of interview questions that assessed their current asthma activity, depressive symptoms, quality of life, and medical outcomes. Forty-five percent of the patients scored above a threshold considered positive for depression screening.

Patients who had more signs of depression and those who had medical problems in addition to asthma had markedly lower scores for health-related quality of life. Those who were older, non-white, less educated, not working, or enrolled in Medicaid were more likely to show signs of depression. In addition, the results show that the level of depressive symptoms increased as household income decreased.

"Outcome measures focusing on patient-reported functional status and health-related quality of life are becoming important in assessing asthma care," said lead researcher Carol A. Mancuso, MD, of Cornell University's Weill Medical College. "Our study results suggest the need to consider patients' self-reported psychological status, including depressive symptoms, when measuring outcomes in asthma care."
The study is the first large study to document the relationship of asthma activity level and depressive symptoms on patients' self-reported health-related quality of life. The researchers report their findings in the latest issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The research was supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar's Award to Dr. Mancuso.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine, a monthly peer-reviewed journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine, publishes original articles on research and education in primary care. For information about the journal, contact Renee F. Wilson at 410-955-9868.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health, For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong,, at 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

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