Study objectives: Cough is the most common complaint for which patients in the United States seek medical attention. Although the significant effect of cough on quality of life has been reported, the association of chronic cough with depressive symptomatology has not previously been investigated.
Design: Prospective, nonrandomized evaluation.
Setting: Outpatient department of academic medical center.
Patients: Representative sample of patients presenting to a specialty center seeking evaluation and treatment of chronic cough.
Interventions: Participants completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), a 20-item self-report questionnaire designed to measure depressive symptomatology and risk for clinical depression, on initial evaluation and again after 3 months. Patients also provided subjective cough scores reflecting the severity of their cough.
Measurements and results: Of 100 patients undergoing initial evaluation, 53% scored positive (≥ 16) on the CES-D. Mean CES-D score was 18.3 ± 13.2 (± SD). Among 81 subjects followed up at 3 months, mean CES-D score fell to 7.4 ± 10.4, and subjective cough score decreased from 10 to 4.9 ± 3.1. There was a statistically significant improvement in both cough and depression scores after 3 months (p < 0.001). Improvement in cough score correlated significantly with improvement in depression score (p = 0.003; Spearman ρ = 0.323).
Conclusion: Depressive symptomatology is very common in patients with chronic cough. Physicians and other caregivers must be aware of the significant risk of clinical depression in this patient population.