Dyspnea is one of the most reported symptoms of patients with advanced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and is often undertreated. Morphine has proven to be an effective treatment for dyspnea and is recommended in clinical practice guidelines, but questions concerning benefits and respiratory adverse effects remain. This study primarily evaluates the impact of oral sustained release morphine (morphine SR) on health-related quality of life and respiratory adverse effects in patients with COPD. Secondary objectives include the impact on exercise capacity, the relationship between description and severity of dyspnea and the presence of a clinically relevant response to morphine, and cost-effectiveness. A single-center, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled intervention study will be performed in 124 patients with COPD who recently completed a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation program. Participants will receive 20-30 mg/24h morphine SR or placebo for four weeks. After the intervention, participants will be followed for twelve weeks. Outcomes include: the COPD Assessment Test, six minute walking test, Multidimensional Dyspnea Scale and a cost diary. Furthermore, lung function and arterial blood gasses will be measured. These measures will be assessed during a baseline and outcome assessment, two home visits, two phone calls, and three follow-up assessments. The intervention and control group will be compared using uni- and multivariate regression analysis and logistic regression analysis. Finally, an economic evaluation will be performed from a societal and healthcare perspective. The current manuscript describes the rationale and methods of this study and provides an outline of the possible strengths, weaknesses and clinical consequences.
Keywords: Adverse effects; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Clinical effectiveness; Dyspnea; Morphine; Research protocol.
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