Evid Based Nurs 6:84 doi:10.1136/ebn.6.3.84
  • Treatment

Review: oral or parenteral opioids alleviate dyspnoea

 QUESTION: Are opioids effective in the treatment of dyspnoea?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline (1966–99), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (1980–99), CANCERLIT (1988–99), CINAHL (1982–99), the Cochrane Library, Dissertation Abstracts, and SIGLE; reviewing the reference lists of relevant studies, reviews, and book chapters; and contacting authors, other experts in the field, and palliative care organisations.

Study selection

Studies were selected if they were randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trials of any opioid to alleviate breathlessness in patients with dyspnoea caused by any disease.

Data extraction

Data were extracted by 2 independent reviewers on disease causing dyspnoea, intervention (opioid used and dosage), study methodology, and results. Study quality was assessed using the 5 point Jadad scale and the Cochrane Collaboration criteria for concealment. Main outcome measure was a subjective assessment of dyspnoea. In studies of patients at rest, the …

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