Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of nursing intervention for breathlessness in patients with lung cancer.
Design Patients diagnosed with lung cancer participated in a multicentre randomised controlled trial where they either attended a nursing clinic offering intervention for their breathlessness or received best supportive care.The intervention consisted of a range of strategies combining breathing control, activity pacing, relaxation techniques, and psychosocial support. Best supportive care involved receiving standard management and treatment available for breathlessness, and breathing assessments. Participants completed a range of self assessment questionnaires at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks.
Setting Nursing clinics within 6 hospital settings in the United Kingdom.
Participants 119 patients diagnosed with small cell or non-small cell lung cancer or with mesothelioma who had completed first line treatment for their disease and reported breathlessness.
Outcome measures Visual analogue scales measuring distress due to breathlessness, breathlessness at best and worst, WHO performance status scale, hospital anxiety and depression scale, and Rotterdam symptom checklist.
Results The intervention group improved significantly at 8 weeks in 5 of the 11 items assessed:breathlessness at best, WHO performance status, levels of depression, and two Rotterdam symptom checklist measures (physical symptom distress and breathlessness) and showed slight improvement in 3 of the remaining 6 items.
Conclusion Most patients who completed the study had a poor prognosis, and breathlessness was typically a symptom of their deteriorating condition.Patients who attended nursing clinics and received the breathlessness intervention experienced improvements in breathlessness, performance status, and physical and emotional states relative to control patients.