Gaps in the Evidence Base of Opioids for Refractory Breathlessness. A Future Work Plan?

Miriam Johnson, Amy Abernethy, David Currow

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Breathlessness or "shortness of breath," medically termed dyspnea, remains a devastating problem for many people and those who care for them. As a treatment intervention, administration of opioids to relieve breathlessness is an area where progress has been made with the development of an evidence base. As evidence in support of opioids has accumulated, so has our collective understanding about trial methodology, research collaboration, and infrastructure that is crucial to generate reliable research results for palliative care clinical settings. Analysis of achievements to date and what it takes to accomplish these studies provides important insights into knowledge gaps needing further research and practical insight into design of pharmacological and nonpharmacological intervention trials in breathlessness and palliative care. This article presents the current understanding of opioids for treating breathlessness, what is still unknown as priorities for future research, and highlights methodological issues for consideration in planned studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)614-624
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    • dyspnea
    • opioid
    • Palliative care
    • research


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