Breathlessness, Anxiety, Depression, and Function–The BAD-F Study: A Cross-Sectional and Population Prevalence Study in Adults

David C. Currow, Sungwon Chang, Helen K. Reddel, Slavica Kochovska, Diana Ferreira, Irina Kinchin, Miriam Johnson, Magnus Ekström

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Context: Breathlessness is associated with depression, but its relationship to anxiety or impaired function is less clear. Objectives: This study evaluated associations between chronic breathlessness and anxiety, depression, and functional status in the general population. Methods: This cross-sectional study of consenting adults (18 years and older) used an online survey. Quota sampling (n = 3000) was used reflecting the 2016 national census for sex, age, and place of residence. Other data included Four-Item Patient Health Questionnaire for depression and anxiety, the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) Breathlessness Scale, and the Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Scale. Multinomial logistic regression assessed predictors. Results: About 2977 respondents had all relevant scores (female 51.2%; median age 45.0 [range 18–92]). Prevalence of breathlessness (mMRC ≥2) was 2.4%, anxiety 6.0%, depression 2.7%, coexisting anxiety/depression 6.1%, and poorer functional status (Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Scale ≤60) 1.6%. In multinomial regression, depression, anxiety, and coexisting anxiety/depression were predicted by younger age, longer duration of breathlessness, and poorer functional status. The highest proportions of people with breathlessness were found in the coexisting anxiety/depression group (10.6%) and depression only group (8.8%). Poorest function was in the coexisting anxiety/depression group with 11.6%. The relationship between poorer functional status and coexisting anxiety/depression was significant (odds ratio 0.90; 95% CI 0.89, 0.92). Adjusted odds ratio for breathlessness and depression only was 3.0 (95% CI 1.2, 7.8). Conclusion: Clinically important breathlessness (mMRC ≥2) was associated with depression, anxiety, and coexisting anxiety/depression. Poorer function that is associated with psychological morbidity in the general population requires further research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)197-205.e2
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


    • anxiety
    • Chronic breathlessness
    • depression
    • population survey
    • prevalence study


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