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

  • Morag Farquhar (a1), Irene J. Higginson (a2), Petrea Fagan (a3) and Sara Booth (a3)

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.


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


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.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Morag Farquhar, Department of Public Health & Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0SR, England. E-mail:
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Palliative & Supportive Care
  • ISSN: 1478-9515
  • EISSN: 1478-9523
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