One evidence base; three stories: do opioids relieve chronic breathlessness?

Magnus Ekstrom, Sabrina Bajwah, J Martin Bland, David C Currow, Jamilla Hussain, Miriam Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

    Abstract

    The efficacy of low-dose systemic opioids for chronic breathlessness was questioned by the recent Cochrane review by Barnes et al. We examined the reasons for this conflicting finding and re-evaluated the efficacy of systemic opioids. Compared with previous meta-analyses, Barnes et al reported a smaller effect and lower precision, but did not account for matched data of crossover trials (11/12 included trials) and added a risk-of-bias criterion (sample size). When re-analysed to account for crossover data, opioids decreased breathlessness (standardised mean differences −0.32; −0.18 to −0.47; I2=44.8%) representing a clinically meaningful reduction of 0.8 points (0–10 numerical rating scale), consistent across meta-analyses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)88-90
    Number of pages3
    JournalThorax
    Volume73
    Issue number1
    Early online date2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

    Keywords

    • Chronic breathlessness
    • Opioids
    • Meta-analyses
    • Morphine

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  • Cite this

    Ekstrom, M., Bajwah, S., Bland, J. M., Currow, D. C., Hussain, J., & Johnson, M. (2018). One evidence base; three stories: do opioids relieve chronic breathlessness? Thorax, 73(1), 88-90. https://doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-209868