Analysis: Dyspnea in Hospitalized Patients

Although dyspnea is common among hospitalized patients, there are little data pertaining to patients’ experiences. This study profiled the multiple sensations and associated emotions of dyspnea at time of admission to a tertiary care hospital. Patients were included in the study if they reported a four out of 10 for breathing discomfort (10 being unbearable) upon admission. A total of 156 patients were recruited within 24 hours of admission. Patients’ current and worst dyspnea were assessed using the Multidimensional Dyspnea Profile, which evaluates overall breathing discomfort (A1), intensity of five sensory qualities of dyspnea, and five negative emotional responses to dyspnea. Patients also self-rated whether their current dyspnea levels were “acceptable.” The average length of study participation was 2.6 days. At the first research interview, slight to moderate dyspnea was reported (A1 median, 4), but dyspnea was severe during the 24 hours prior to the interview (A1 mean, 7.8). On day one, about half of patients (54%) with dyspnea ≥4 described their dyspnea as “unacceptable.” Each day, dyspnea was usually the most severe during the prior 24 hours at rest. During the study period, dyspnea declined but persisted for most patients. The dominant sensation was “air hunger,” which was particularly more prevalent among strong dyspnea (>4), while the dominant emotions were anxiety and frustration. Read more