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  • 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016
  • Project No: 273
  • Funding round: FR 9
  • Pulmonary disease (COPD)

The focus of asthma treatment is on medication, usually with inhalers, and the response to poorly controlled asthma (PCA) is often to increase medication. However, asthma affects people in many ways, including effects on emotions, concentration and self-management behaviour. Having attacks of breathlessness can be frightening, and some may become anxious or depressed.

Significant anxiety is six times as common in people with asthma, particularly when control is poor. Those with anxiety have worse outcomes, including more attacks, symptoms and lower quality of life. Anxiety is often not talked about with doctors, so can be untreated. The Department of Health has recently made studies of psychological treatments in asthma a research priority.

We plan to study the use of ‘mindfulness’ training for people with PCA and anxiety. Mindfulness focuses on managing bodily sensations in a calm and accepting way. Participants pay particular attention to breathing patterns. Mindfulness interventions have shown to help in anxiety, depression and chronic pain, but have had little attention in asthma.

Our aim is to provide mindfulness training to patents attending the ‘difficult asthma’ clinic in Southampton, who also have scores on a screening questionnaire indicating significant anxiety. We want to see if the course can be delivered (and is acceptable) to PCA patients. We also want to provide information to support a larger, randomised controlled study in the future.

Twenty consenting volunteers will complete measures of quality of life, symptoms, anxiety and attention before and after a mindfulness course. The course consists of 4 weekly group practices (lasting 1.5 hours) with a qualified mindfulness instructor, with daily ‘homework’ practice lasting about 10 minutes. Participants will also be invited to take part in focus groups that will discuss their experiences of taking part and the acceptability of the intervention.

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.

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