Patient experiences of depression and anxiety with chronic disease: a systematic review and qualitative meta-synthesis.
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BACKGROUND: Depression and anxiety are highly prevalent in patients with chronic disease, but remain undertreated despite significant negative consequences on patient health. A number of clinical groups have developed recommendations for depression screening practices in the chronic disease population. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this analysis was to review empirical qualitative research on the experiences of patients with chronic disease (e.g., COPD, diabetes, heart disease, stroke) and comorbid depression or anxiety, and to highlight the implications of the screening and management of anxiety and/or depression on chronic disease outcomes. REVIEW METHODS: We performed literature searches for studies published from January 2002 to May 2012. We applied a qualitative mega-filter to nine condition-specific search filters. Titles and abstracts were reviewed by two reviewers and, for the studies that met the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Qualitative meta-synthesis was used to integrate findings across relevant published primary research studies. Qualitative meta-synthesis produced a synthesis of evidence that both retained the original meaning of the authors and offered a new, integrative interpretation of the phenomenon through a process of comparing and contrasting findings across studies. RESULTS: The findings of 20 primary qualitative studies were synthesized. Patients tended to experience their chronic conditions and anxiety or depression as either independent or inter-related (i.e., the chronic disease lead to depression/anxiety, the depression/anxiety lead to the chronic disease, or the two conditions exacerbated each other). Potential barriers to screening for depression or anxiety were also identified. LIMITATIONS: A wider array of issues might have been captured if the analysis had focused on broader psychological responses to the chronic disease experience. However, given the objective to highlight implications for screening for anxiety or depression, the more narrow focus seemed most relevant. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic disease and anxiety or depression can be independent or inter-related. Patients may be reluctant to acknowledge depression or anxiety as a separate condition, or may not recognize that the conditions are separate because of overlapping physical symptoms. More qualitative research is needed to specifically address screening for depression or anxiety. PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: Depression is a common complication of chronic disease. It may worsen the disease, and it may also affect the self-management of the disease. Screening for depression earlier, and then treating it, may reduce distress and improve symptoms of the chronic disease, leading to better quality of life.
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