Psychological disorders, including depression, are common in adults with asthma. Although depression is treatable, its impact on longitudinal asthma outcomes is not clear.
To elucidate the impact of depressive symptoms on patient-centered outcomes and emergency health care use in adults with asthma.
We conducted a prospective cohort study of 743 adults with asthma who were recruited after hospitalization for asthma. Depressive symptoms were defined as having a score of 16 or more on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. We examined the impact of depressive symptoms on patient-centered outcomes (validated severity-of-asthma score, Marks Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire, and 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey physical component summary score) and on future emergency health care use for asthma ascertained from computerized databases.
The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 18% (95% confidence interval [CI], 15%-21%) among adults with asthma. Depressive symptoms were associated with greater severity-of-asthma scores after controlling for age, sex, race/ ethnicity, educational attainment, and cigarette smoking (mean score increment, 2.6 points; 95% CI, 1.8-3.4 points). Furthermore, depressive symptoms were associated with poorer asthma-specific quality of life (mean score increment, 19.9 points; 95% CI, 17.7-22.1 points) and poorer physical health status (mean score decrement, 3.7 points; 95% CI, 1.5-5.8 points). Depressive symptoms were associated with a greater longitudinal risk of hospitalization for asthma (hazard ratio, 1.34; 95% CI, 0.98-1.84). After controlling for differences in preventive care for asthma, the relationship was stronger (hazard ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.05-2.0).
Depressive symptoms are common in adults with asthma and are associated with poorer health outcomes, including greater asthma severity and risk of hospitalization for asthma.