Do the Trajectories of Dyspnea Differ in Prevalence and Intensity By Diagnosis at the End of Life? A Consecutive Cohort Study

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Journal Article
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2010, 39 (4), pp. 680 - 690
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Context. Breathlessness reportedly worsens as death approaches for many people, but the differences in intensity and time course between underlying causes are not well described. Objectives. To determine differences in the intensity of breathlessness by diagnosis over time as death approaches in a consecutive cohort seen by a specialist palliative care service. Methods. Patients referred to Silver Chain Hospice Care Service over a period of four years (January 2004 to December 2007) had dyspnea evaluated at every clinical encounter until death. A numeric rating scale (NRS) was used to measure the intensity. Patients were categorized into five clusters (lung cancer, secondary cancer to lung, heart failure, end-stage pulmonary disease, and no identifiable cardiorespiratory cause) at three time points (60e53 [T3], 30e23 [T2], and 7e0 [T1] days before death [T0]). Group differences were assessed using analysis of variance. Joinpoint regression models defined significant changes in mean breathlessness intensity.
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