Quality of Life Changes With Duration of Chronic Breathlessness: A Random Sample of Community-Dwelling People

David C. Currow, Sungwon Chang, Eleonora Dal Grande, Diana H. Ferreira, Slavica Kochovska, Irina Kinchin, Miriam J. Johnson, Magnus Ekstrom

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    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: Chronic breathlessness is associated with poorer quality of life (QoL). This population study aimed to define dimensions of QoL and duration and dominant causes of breathlessness that most diminished QoL. Methods: This cross-sectional, population-based, and randomized survey of adults (n = 2977) in South Australia collected data on demographics, modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) breathlessness, and QoL (EuroQoL five-dimension five-level [EQ-5D-5L] measure; Short Form 12 quality-of-life measure). Data weighted to the census were analyzed for relationships between EQ-5D-5L and its dimensions with mMRC. Regression models controlled for age, sex, education, rurality, and body mass index. Results: About 2883 responses were analyzed: 49% were males; mean age was 48 years (SD 19). As mMRC worsened, EQ-5D-5L and its dimensions worsened. More severe chronic breathlessness was iteratively associated with lower mobility, daily activities, and worse pain/discomfort. For self-care and anxiety/depression, impairment was only with the most severe breathlessness. Respondents who had chronic breathlessness for two to six years had the worst QoL scores. People who attributed their breathlessness to cardiac failure had poorer QoL. Respondents who reported a cardiac cause for their breathlessness had worse mobility, poorer usual activities, and more pain than the other causes. The regression analyses showed that worse chronic breathlessness was associated with worsening QoL in each dimension of EQ-5D-5L, with the exception of the self-care, which only worsened with the most severe breathlessness. Conclusions: This is the first study to report on chronic breathlessness and impairment across dimensions of QoL and differences by its duration. Mobility, usual activity, and pain drive these reductions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)818-827.e4
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
    Issue number4
    Early online date20 May 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


    • Chronic breathlessness
    • population survey
    • prevalence study
    • quality of life


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