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Keywords:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • psychological distress;
  • quality of life;
  • health status;
  • nursing

Background.  Knowledge of what may influence patients’ perceptions of quality of life is essential for improving nursing interventions, but there has been little research on the influence of psychological distress on health status and quality of life among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Aim.  This paper reports a study whose aim was to examine how disease factors and health status affect psychological distress and subjectively perceived quality of life in patients admitted for an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Method.  A convenience sample of 92 inpatients (mean age 69 years) were interviewed using the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire, Hopkins Symptoms Check List (23 item version), and World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment. Disease variables (disease duration and pulmonary function) and health status were entered in blockwise multivariate regression analyses to examine the relationships between disease variables, psychological distress, and a single item assessment of overall quality of life.

Results.  The St George's Respiratory Questionnaire Total and Impact subscores showed statistically significant associations with psychological distress. Pulmonary function showed a moderately significant association with subjective perceived quality of life. Pulmonary function and disease duration explained a minor part of the variance in quality of life. Psychological distress had a statistically significant association with quality of life and accounted for 34% of the total 39% variance explained by our model.

Conclusions.  The influence of psychological distress on quality of life implies that bringing about change in psychological distress factors may have important consequences for quality of life. The findings should be taken seriously in developing future nursing interventions for this group of patients.