Results of a pilot investigation into a complex intervention for breathlessness in advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): brief report

Palliat Support Care. 2010 Jun;8(2):143-9. doi: 10.1017/S1478951509990897. Epub 2010 Mar 23.


Objective: Breathlessness is the most common devastating symptom of advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Breathlessness Intervention Service (BIS) is a multidisciplinary service that uses both pharmacological and non-pharmacological evidence-based interventions to reduce the impact of the symptom. The results of a Phase II evaluation of the service are reported.

Method: Pretest - posttest analysis of non-randomized data was performed for 13 patients with severe advanced COPD referred to BIS.

Results: Mean VAS-Distress scores (primary outcome measure) decreased (improved) for the group between baseline and follow up suggesting a clinically significant improvement: 6.88 (SD = 2.50) to 5.25 (SD = 2.99). At an individual level, 11 of the 13 patients showed a decrease in their distress due to breathlessness, and for eight of these this was clinically significant (range of all decreases 0.3-7.1 cm). Changes in secondary outcome measures are also reported.

Significance of results: The Breathlessness Intervention Service appears to reduce distress due to breathlessness among patients with advanced COPD. A Phase III fully-powered randomized controlled trial is warranted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Dyspnea / diagnosis
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / prevention & control*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome