Researchers confirmed that the prevalence of depression and anxiety among individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF) and their caregivers remains worryingly high, as published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

One of the major shifts that have taken place in CF care is the slow transition of the disease from one that is severely time-limiting to that of chronic disease. As better therapeutics prolong survival and improve clinical outcomes, reports of depression and anxiety among both patients and their caregivers have risen.

“Psychological burden in people with [CF] and their caregivers can result in poorer outcomes such as decreased lung function, lower body mass index and more hospitalizations, as well as higher health care costs and worse adherence to prescribed therapy,” the authors of the study wrote.

They hence decided to estimate the prevalence of anxiety and depression among patients and their caregivers. The research team conducted a literature search through academic search engines to look for studies that explored mental health issues in patients with CF and their caregivers. All types of studies were considered, as long as participants had a diagnosis of CF, and data were collected on the prevalence of depression and anxiety among them.

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From an initial 7425 studies, the research team included 94 in the final analysis. The publication dates were from 1989 to 2020. The results demonstrated that the prevalence of depression and anxiety in adolescents and adults with CF was at least twice that of individuals in the general population. Caregivers also had a high prevalence of both disorders, although a high level of heterogeneity was observed.

One of the main takeaways from this study is that anxiety and depression levels among patients and caregivers are high enough to warrant regular mental health screening. This is to ensure that the quality of life of patients and their caregivers can be honestly assessed and appraised. 

“Future studies of rare conditions such as CF would benefit from consistent and thorough methodologies, to allow pooled data to help identify those at most risk as well as focusing on identifying the most appropriate tools for children under 12 years of age,” the authors concluded. 

Reference

Lord L, McKernon D, Grzeskowiak L, Kirsa S, Ilomaki J. Depression and anxiety prevalence in people with cystic fibrosis and their caregivers: a systematic review and meta-analysisSoc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. Published online June 4, 2022. doi:10.1007/s00127-022-02307-w