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“Everything was spiraling out of control”: Experiences of anxiety in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Authors
Journal
Heart & Lung The Journal of Acute and Critical Care
0147-9563
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
41
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2012.07.003
Keywords
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Experience
  • Panic
  • Qualitative
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Objective This study sought to elicit and describe the first-hand experiences of anxiety in community patients with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Anxiety is common among patients with COPD. Clinical anxiety affects up to two thirds of patients, leading to reduced quality of life and physical functioning. There has been little research exploring the experiences of anxiety in patients with COPD, particularly in individuals with stable respiratory symptoms. Methods We interviewed 14 community patients with stable COPD and self-reported symptoms of anxiety. Data were analyzed using thematic network analysis to develop basic, organizing, and global themes. Results Patients reported intense thoughts of fear, hopelessness, and confusion that were associated with the anxiety and panic attacks. Self-management was important, particularly self-talk coping strategies. Conclusions Unmanaged anxiety seems to be particularly distressing for patients with COPD. Self-management strategies can be highly effective in preventing and managing anxiety.

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