Treatment of dyspnea in COPD. A controlled clinical trial of dyspnea management strategies

Chest. 1995 Mar;107(3):724-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.107.3.724.


We conducted a randomized clinical trial to evaluate a limited pulmonary rehabilitation program focused on coping strategies for shortness of breath but without exercise training. Eighty-nine patients with COPD were randomly assigned to either 6-week treatment or general health education control groups. Treatment consisted of instruction and practice in techniques of progressive muscle relaxation, breathing retraining, pacing, self-talk, and panic control. Tests of 6-min walk distance, quality of well-being, and psychological function as well as six dyspnea measures were administered at baseline, posttreatment, and 6 months after the intervention. Baseline pulmonary function tests also were obtained. At the end of the 6-week treatment, there were no significant differences between the treatment and control groups on any outcome measure. At the 6-month follow-up, a significant group difference was seen on only one variable, Mahler's transition dyspnea index. The results of this evaluation suggest that a treatment program of dyspnea management strategies, without structured exercise training or other components of a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation program, is not sufficient to produce significant improvement in dyspnea, exercise tolerance, health-related quality of well-being, anxiety, or depression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dyspnea / complications
  • Dyspnea / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / complications
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Respiratory Mechanics
  • Treatment Outcome