Cystic fibrosis

Guidelines address mental health in CF

Clinicians have been urged to systematically address mental health issues in people with cystic fibrosis to improve health outcomes.

New guidelines developed by the International Committee on Mental Health in CF recommend that all people with CF receive an annual mental health check from age 12 years as well as ongoing education and preventative, supportive interventions to promote effective coping skills and disease management.

They also suggest offering annual screening for depression and anxiety to parents of children with CF from the time of the child’s birth to 17 years of age.

Welcoming the guidelines Professor Scott Bell from The Prince Charles Hospital and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane said that although CF Centres in Australia already looked after the mental health needs of patients and their families to some extent, there was a need for a more systematic approach.

“There is no doubt that with the growing complexity of CF care that the guidelines are desperately needed,” he told the limbic.

Professor Bell believes most CF teams will embrace the guidelines, but says there will be some hesitancy as to how they will actually implement the recommendations.

The challenge is getting a systematic approach rolled out at a local level, and then how to support the ongoing management of patients who require specialist treatment by the mental health teams, he said.

“Most CF services are very much under the pump already, and so it’s a matter of working out how you’re going to do this on top of everything else in the management of the patient.”

Professor Bell says that in the coming months the CF Centre Directors group, which represent all of the CF centres around the country, will discuss how to move the guidelines forward in clinical practice and what the national approach will be.

The guidelines include 15 recommendations for screening and treating depression and anxiety and were created in response to findings that people with CF and parent caregivers’ experienced higher rates of depression and anxiety than the general population.

“Systematic screening of these symptoms, with appropriate intervention, offers the opportunity to significantly improve the quality of life and health of individuals with CF and their parent caregivers,” the committee concluded in the guidelines published in Thorax.

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