Cancer nursing practice development: understanding breathlessness

Authors

  • Meinir Krishnasamy MSc, BA, Dip N, RGN,

    1. Senior Nursing Fellow, Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, 15 Cotswold Road, Sutton, Surrey, UK
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  • Jessica Corner PhD, BSc, RGN, Oncology Certificate,

    1. Professor of Cancer Nursing & Director, Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
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  • Mary Bredin MA, RGN,

    1. Macmillan Research Practitioner, Macmillan Practice Development Unit, Centre for Cancer & Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
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  • Hilary Plant BA, RGN, Oncology Certificate,

    1. Research Practitioner/Lecturer, Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK
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  • Chris Bailey MSc, BA, RGN, Oncology Certificate

    1. Senior Nursing Fellow, Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, 15 Cotswold Road, Sutton, Surrey, UK
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M.Krishnasamy D Block, Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Institute of Cancer Research, 15 Cotswold Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 SRG UK (tel.: 020 87224333 ext. 4802; fax: 020 86426177; e-mail: meinir@icr.ac.uk).

Abstract

•  This paper considers methodological and philosophical issues that arose during a multi-centre, randomized controlled trial of a new nursing intervention to manage breathlessness with patients with primary lung cancer.

•  Despite including a diverse range of instruments to measure the effects of the intervention, the uniqueness of individuals’ experiences of breathlessness were often hidden by a requirement to frame the study within a reductionist research approach.

•  Evidence from the study suggests that breathlessness is only partly defined when understood and explored within a bio-medical framework, and that effective therapy can only be achieved once the nature and impact of breathlessness have been understood from the perspective of the individual experiencing it.

•  We conclude that to work therapeutically we need to know how patients interpret their illness and its resultant problems and that this demands methodological creativity.

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