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Department team develops diagnostic algorithm for breathlessness

The SyMPOSE Team of the Department of Management has worked with IMPRESS, a joint initiative between the two leading respiratory clinical societies in the UK, the British Thoracic Society and the Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS)-UK, in developing a  diagnostic algorithm for breathlessness, a model on the burden of breathlessness in the community and a comprehensive literature review of the epidemiology of breathlessness.

The project aimed to explore the development of pathways for the assessment and management of patients presenting with breathlessness. This symptom is a high priority on patient agendas, it is sufficiently prevalent in the population and introduces multi-morbidities into the discussions. Breathlessness in fact is usually associated with cardiac and respiratory conditions, often in combination with other problems, such as poor mental health and obesity, which can also contribute to breathlessness and may go undetected. 

The team held a one-day workshop to explore the definitions of breathlessness, its epidemiology and possible underlying conditions, and how best to assess, manage and treat it given the evidence base currently available. This preliminary phase was followed by a thorough literature review and complemented with inputs and feedbacks from key stakeholders working on the field. A summary of the conclusions was produced in the form of Breathlessness IMPRESS Tips (BITs), completed with the rationale of why the tip is needed and the supporting evidence. The BITs for clinicians and patients are currently available on line, those for commissioners and researchers will follow in the next weeks.