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Elderly Patients Use Multiple Strategies to Combat Dyspnea

Last Updated: May 18, 2009.

Elderly patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease use a variety of techniques and strategies to cope with the dyspnea associated with their condition, according to a study published in the May issue of Applied Nursing Research.

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease use a variety of techniques and strategies to cope with the dyspnea associated with their condition, according to a study published in the May issue of Applied Nursing Research.

Loris A. Thomas, Ph.D., of the University of Florida College of Nursing in Gainesville conducted a study of 30 community-dwelling elders aged 60 years and above with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to find out what strategies they used to manage dyspnea. The author identified four categories of coping strategies, namely altered breathing pattern, use of inhaled medications, changing activities, and relaxation.

The participants all reported using between six and 10 different strategies to cope with the episodes of dyspnea, the author found. Although only 17 (56.6 percent) of the respondents had been prescribed oxygen for home use, this was rated the top dyspnea management strategy, while pursed lip breathing, among the top 11 strategies, was ranked by participants as the least effective, the researcher found.

"This is especially significant regarding the educational preparation most clinicians receive -- that pursed lip breathing and relaxation techniques are the most effective methods for helping these patients through an episode," the author writes. "Thus, the impact of collaboration between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients and their health care providers in the selection of individualized dyspnea management strategy and patient outcomes requires further investigation."

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