New Study to Look at Mental Health in COPD

November 14, 2019 Alpha1 Admin Comments Off

People with COPD are invited to participate in an important new Irish study looking at the impact of COPD on mental health.

COPD is one of the most common respiratory diseases in Ireland, with over 400,000 people estimated to be living with the condition (“Respiratory Health of the Nation 2018”, Irish Thoracic Society Report).  Symptoms range from a persistent cough with phlegm, increasing breathlessness on exertion, and an increased likelihood of chest infections. The typical treatment options for COPD aim to reduce the chance of severe lung damage and may include quitting smoking, the use of inhalers and medications, exercise, and oxygen therapy. There are many causes of COPD, including the genetic condition alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), which is quite common in Ireland (“The Prevalence of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency in Ireland“, Carroll et al, 2011). 

Current research is becoming increasingly interested in ways to improve the quality of life for people living with COPD. There is a growing agreement that the physical symptoms of COPD, alone, are not a strong predictor of quality of life. Research suggests that some patients with COPD can have poorer quality of life despite having mild COPD, and others can have much better quality of life despite having severe COPD (Brien et al., 2016).

It is therefore likely that psychological factors are relevant to people’s quality of life and ability to cope with the disease. Only recently has research turned its attention to the psychological impact of being diagnosed with and living with COPD. Studies are consistently showing higher rates of depression and anxiety in people with COPD, compared to those without the disease. Other relevant factors that may impact quality of life are related to loneliness and the amount of social contact people experience on a day to day basis.

To date, no research has focused on the psychological contributors to quality of life for people with COPD in an Irish context. With your help, we’d love to investigate the importance of these factors, identify what supports are needed and make recommendations for appropriate treatment interventions. The full title of this study is “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and quality of life: A qualitative analysis of the psychological contributors to quality of life for people living with COPD.”

What does participation involve?
If you decide to participate, you will be asked to attend for an interview in Beaumont Hospital with the researcher, Seamus O’Donnell, who is a Trainee Clinical Psychologist.  You will be asked questions about your experiences of living with COPD, and how psychological factors impact your quality of life.  Participation in the interviews will last approximately 30 – 60 minutes.  All information recorded in this research will be kept private and confidential.  Participants will not be identifiable when this research is written up as part of a PhD thesis.  The research has been approved by Beaumont Hospital Ethics (Medical Research) Committee.

If you would like to get involved, or you would like to find out more about the research, please contact Seamus O’Donnell at or 087 7925367.