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Art Therapy: A Promising Intervention for COPD Patients with Depression


Expressive art therapy found to reduce anxiety and depression in COPD patients clinical trial finds

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic condition that affects the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Patients with COPD may experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can have a significant impact on their daily lives, leading to depression and anxiety. A recent study was conducted in China to investigate the effect of expressive art therapy (EAT) on the health status of patients with COPD.

The trial involved 360 participants with COPD and comorbid depression from 16 communities in China. The participants were randomly assigned to either receive EAT plus usual care (UC) or UC only. General practitioners were trained in EAT before the intervention.

The primary outcomes of the study were depression and anxiety symptoms, measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and expressed as the HADS score for depression or anxiety (HADS-D or HADS-A, respectively). The secondary outcomes were the quality of life and dyspnoea, measured with the COPD assessment test (CAT).

Dyspnoea was assessed using the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) dyspnoea scale. Lung function was expressed as the forced expiratory volume in 1s as a percentage of the predicted value [FEV1 (% pred)].

The results of the study showed that the EAT group had significantly greater improvement in the HADS-D and HADS-A scores than the UC group at 2 months and 6 months. The CAT and mMRC scores were significantly lower in the EAT group than in the UC group at 2 and 6 months. The FEV1 (% pred) was significantly higher in the EAT group than in the UC group at 6 months. These findings suggest that EAT can effectively reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and dyspnoea, improve quality of life, and improve the pulmonary function of patients with COPD.


Expressive art therapy is a form of therapy that uses art to help individuals express themselves and process their emotions. It can include activities such as painting, drawing, and sculpting. In the context of COPD, EAT can help patients express their emotions and cope with the challenges of the condition. The results of the study suggest that EAT can be an effective intervention for patients with COPD and comorbid depression.

One of the strengths of this study is that it was a community-based cluster randomized controlled trial. This means that the study was conducted in real-world settings, rather than in a laboratory. The participants were also representative of the general population of patients with COPD and comorbid depression. Another strength of the study is that it involved training general practitioners in EAT. This means that EAT can be delivered by healthcare professionals who are already working with patients with COPD.


The study provides evidence that expressive art therapy can be an effective intervention for patients with COPD and comorbid depression. EAT can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and dyspnoea, improve quality of life, and improve pulmonary function. The study suggests that EAT can be delivered by general practitioners and should be considered as a treatment option for patients with COPD and comorbid depression.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.