Contributions of a hand-held fan to self-management of chronic breathlessness

Tim Luckett, Jane Phillips, Miriam J. Johnson, Morag Farquhar, Flavia Swan, Teresa Assen, Priyanka Bhattarai, Sara Booth

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46 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the benefits of a hand-held fan as perceived by patients with chronic breathlessness and their carers. A secondary multimethod analysis was conducted of interview data collected in three clinical trials. Two researchers independently coded level of benefit qualitatively reported by each patient. Univariate and multivariate statistics were used to explore perceived benefit as a factor of sex, age and diagnosis. Qualitative analysis used an integrative method. 133 patients commented on the fan, of whom 72 had a carer. Diagnoses included nonmalignant (n=91, 68.4%) and malignant (n=21, 15.8%) conditions. Of 111 patients who provided codable data, four (3.6%) perceived no benefit, 16 (14.4%) were uncertain, 80 (72.0%) perceived some benefit and 11 (10.0%) perceived very substantial benefit. Multivariate analysis was inconclusive. Benefit was described in terms of shorter recovery time, especially after activity. 10 (7.5%) patients said the fan reduced their need for home oxygen or inhaled β-agonist medications. Negative perceptions of a few included dislike of the cooling sensation and embarrassment in public. Findings suggest that a hand-held fan is a portable intervention with few disadvantages from which most patients with chronic breathlessness will derive benefit alongside other nonpharmacological and pharmacological strategies. Research is needed to optimise guidance on fan administration.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Chronic breathlessness
  • carers
  • hand-held fan


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