One evidence base; three stories: do opioids relieve chronic breathlessness?
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Thorax, 2018, 73 (1), pp. 88 - 90
- Issue Date:
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Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://www.bmj.com/company/products-services/rights-and-licensing/. 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.
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