The evidence base for oxygen for chronic refractory breathlessness: issues, gaps, and a future work plan.


Journal Article

Breathlessness or "shortness of breath," medically termed dyspnea, is a common and distressing symptom featuring strongly in advanced lung, cardiac, and neuromuscular diseases; its prevalence and intensity increase as death approaches. However, despite the increasing understanding in the genesis of breathlessness, as well as an increasing portfolio of treatment options, breathlessness is still difficult to manage and engenders helplessness in caregivers and health care professionals and fear for patients. Although hypoxemia does not appear to be the dominant driver for breathlessness in advanced disease, the belief that oxygen is important for the relief of acute, chronic, and acute-on-chronic shortness of breath is firmly embedded in the minds of patients, caregivers, and health care professionals. This article presents current understanding of the use of oxygen for treating refractory breathlessness in advanced disease. The objective is to highlight what is still unknown, set a research agenda to resolve these questions, and highlight methodological issues for consideration in planned studies.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, MJ; Abernethy, AP; Currow, DC

Published Date

  • April 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 45 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 763 - 775

PubMed ID

  • 23017616

Pubmed Central ID

  • 23017616

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6513

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0885-3924

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2012.03.017


  • eng