An evaluation of a physiotherapy led non-pharmacological breathlessness programme for patients with intrathoracic malignancy

Palliat Med. 2007 Jun;21(4):285-7. doi: 10.1177/0269216307079172.


The outcomes of the first 4 years of a physiotherapy led non-pharmacological breathlessness management programme for patients with intrathoracic malignancy are described. Of the 169 patients enrolling, only 14 completed the full 4-week programme. All reported improvements in some parameters measured though these did not reach statistical significance. These patients tended to be fitter, had longer median survival and the mechanism of their breathlessness was not progressive cancer. The 155 patients who did not complete the programme had a short median survival (95 days), and tended to have cancer related breathlessness. Of these, 131 were seen, 85 receiving part of the programme, 15 needing other services and 31 started but died during the programme. Objective post intervention scores could not be made in this group, but anecdotal quotes suggested benefit. In a group whose natural history is a relentless deterioration over a period of months, pre- and post-intervention symptom scoring is difficult to achieve. It is suggested that a qualitative approach might be more sensitive at identifying which aspects of the service are most appropriate.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Disease Progression
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Medical Audit*
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome