The psychological burden of cystic fibrosis

Alexandra L. Quittner, Estefany Saez-Flores, John D. Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Purpose of review Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common genetic, life-shortening illness among white populations. Management of the disease requires a complex, time-consuming treatment regimen. The purpose of this review is to highlight current research examining the psychological burden of CF, including psychological distress, social challenges, treatment burden, and adherence to daily treatments. Recent findings Individuals with CF and their parent caregivers report elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety. Recent international guidelines (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and European Cystic Fibrosis Society) recommend annual screening of these symptoms using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) scales. Symptoms of depression have been associated with decreased adherence, lower quality of life, and higher healthcare costs. Adherence to pulmonary medications has been found to be 50% or less and decreases with age. Poor adherence has been associated with higher healthcare costs, more frequent hospitalizations, and worse quality of life. Summary Individuals with CF face unique challenges that can lead to psychological burden. Screening for these symptoms and developing effective interventions to improve adherence are the key targets for the next 5 years of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-191
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • adherence
  • cystic fibrosis
  • depression
  • health-related quality of life
  • psychological interventions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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