Psychological interventions for individuals with cystic fibrosis and their families

Lutz Goldbeck, Astrid Fidika, Marion Herle, Alexandra L. Quittner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

37 Scopus citations


Background: With increasing survival estimates for individuals with cystic fibrosis, long-term management has become an important focus. Psychological interventions are largely concerned with adherence to treatment, emotional and social adaptation and health-related quality of life. We are unaware of any relevant systematic reviews. Objectives: To determine whether psychological interventions for people with cystic fibrosis provide significant psychosocial and physical benefits in addition to standard medical care. Search methods: Studies were identified from two Cochrane trials registers (Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group; Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Group), Ovid MEDLINE and PsychINFO; unpublished trials were located through professional networks and Listserves.Most recent search of the Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group's register: 19 December 2013. Most recent search of the Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Group's register: 12 November 2013. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled studies of a broad range of psychological interventions evaluating subjective and objective health outcomes, such as quality of life or pulmonary function, in individuals of all ages with cystic fibrosis and their immediate family. We were interested in psychological interventions, including psychological methods within the scope of psychotherapeutic or psychosomatic mechanism of action (e.g. cognitive behavioural, cognitive, family systems or systemic, psycho-dynamic, or other, e.g. supportive, relaxation, or biofeedback), which were aimed at improving psychological and psychosocial outcomes (e.g. quality of life, levels of stress or distress, psychopathology, etc.), adaptation to disease management and physiological outcomes. Data collection and analysis: Three authors were involved in selecting the eligible studies and two of these authors assessed their risk of bias. Main results: The review includes 16 studies (eight new studies included in this update) representing data from 556 participants. Studies are diverse in their design and their methods. They cover interventions with generic approaches, as well as interventions developed specifically to target disease-specific symptoms and problems in people with cystic fibrosis. These include cognitive behavioural interventions to improve adherence to nutrition or psychosocial adjustment, cognitive interventions to improve adherence or those associated with decision making in lung transplantation, a community-based support intervention and other interventions, such as self-hypnosis, respiratory muscle biofeedback, music therapy, dance and movement therapy, and a tele-medicine intervention to support patients awaiting transplantation. A substantial proportion of outcomes relate to adherence, changes in physical status or other specific treatment concerns during the chronic phase of the disease. There is some evidence that behavioural interventions targeting nutrition and growth in children (4 to 12 years) with cystic fibrosis are effective in the short term. Evidence was found that providing a structured decision-making tool for patients considering lung transplantation improves patients' knowledge of and expectations about the transplant, and reduces decisional conflict in the short term. One study about training in biofeedback-assisted breathing demonstrated some evidence that it improved some lung function measurements. Currently there is insufficient evidence for interventions aimed at other aspects of the disease process. Authors' conclusions: Currently, insufficient evidence exists on psychological interventions or approaches to support people with cystic fibrosis and their caregivers, although some of the studies were promising. Due to the heterogeneity between studies, more of each type of intervention are needed to support preliminary evidence. Multicentre studies, with consequent funding implications, are needed to increase the sample size of these studies and enhance the statistical power and precision to detect important findings. In addition, multicentre studies could improve the generalisation of results by minimizing centre or therapist effects. Psychological interventions should be targeted to illness-specific symptoms or behaviours to demonstrate efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberCD003148
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 18 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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