Psychologists may help fight asthma

15 January 2015 09:53

Psychological support can help lower the number of asthma patients being admitted to hospital, new research suggests

Psychological support can help lower the number of asthma patients being admitted to hospital, new research suggests

Psychological support can help lower the number of asthma patients being admitted to hospital, according to new research.

A team of experts at Southampton General Hospital, led by respiratory medicine specialist Dr Hannah Burke, also found that seeing a psychologist can lead to a reduction in asthma symptoms.

It is thought that around 5.4 million people in the UK have asthma, and one in 10 of those affected have the most severe type of the disease.

This means that despite taking strong medicines, people suffer from asthma attacks as they are unable to get their symptoms under control.

Those who suffer from the most severe symptoms face serious struggles in their daily life - which is why specialist asthma travel insurance may come in useful when planning a holiday abroad.

How the research was carried out

The study involved a total of 13 asthma patients who had been admitted to hospital at least twice in the previous 12 months.

Over a period of six months, the researchers tracked the patients' hospital admissions and the number of days spent in hospital.

Each patient was then given the chance to speak to a clinical psychologist, and hospital admissions were monitored for another six months after the appointment.

It was found that the patients were admitted to hospital a total of 19 times in the first six months of the study, with 159 days spent in hospital.

After patients received input from a psychologist, these figures were reduced by 42% - to 10 admissions and only 93 days in hospital.

The findings have been presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

What the experts say

Dr Burke said those who suffer from severe asthma often struggle to control their symptoms, and more than one in four (27%) experience mental problems as a result.

She added that asthma healthcare professionals rarely discuss the best way to help these people, but said the new study could help shape debate on the issue in the future.

Main symptoms of asthma

Asthma comes in many different forms, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

The NHS says some of the most common symptoms include:

wheezing, which means sufferers make a whistling sound when they breathe shortness of breath a tight chest, as if a band was tightening around it coughing

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