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Eight in 10 asthma sufferers have never had consultation about psychological effects of the condition, finds survey


By Isabel Shaw

22 Dec 2020

Eight in ten adults (81%) with a diagnosis of asthma have never had a discussion with their healthcare professional about the psychological impact of the condition, a survey has found.

The survey of 500 asthma suffers, carried out by Opinion Health, also found that while 46% of respondents would value psychological support, almost a quarter (23%) said they did not feel confident asking their pharmacist, GP, nurse, or consultant for help.

It also found that more than three-quarters (77%) of respondents had never been asked to complete a screening questionnaire about their mental health.

This is despite almost half (45%) of the 500 asthma sufferers reporting that they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

According to the research, funded by pharmaceutical company Chiesi Limited, anxiety disorders were the most common mental health condition among adults with asthma (31%), followed by depression (28%) and bipolar disorder (2%).

Of those with a mental health condition, almost one-third (32%) it had been directly caused by ‘the burden of their asthma’, the study found, while almost half (48%) believed their psychological condition had worsened their asthma symptoms.

Dr Daniel O’Toole, consultant clinical psychologist at Citadel Psychology called for more psychological support for adults with diagnosed asthma.

‘These results highlight the unmet need faced by asthma sufferers in the UK. Although we have made some progress in helping adults with asthma better control their condition, the findings demonstrate there is much more to be done to support them by improving the psychological care provided’, he said.

‘This need is likely to be more prominent now during the Covid-19 pandemic where lockdown and ‘shielding’ measures can lead to, amongst others, increased feelings of worry, anxiety and isolation.’

Stephen Gaduzo, a respiratory GP echoed Dr O’Toole’s call for action.

‘People with asthma spend a very small proportion of their time consulting healthcare professionals about their condition, either for a review appointment or when they need advice in an emergency. So for the vast majority of the time, they are managing it themselves,’ he said.

‘It’s therefore vital that healthcare professionals support them by providing tools and strategies that will enable them to best manage their condition at home, as well as ensuring there is support available beyond the clinic or hospital.

He added: ‘Better routine management leads to better control of asthma, and ultimately reduces the need for emergency consultations either in general practice or in hospital.

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