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QUESTION: Are opioids effective in the treatment of dyspnoea?
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.
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 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 …
Sources of funding: Palliative Care Research Fund of the Royal Marsden Hospital and Sackler Foundation.
For correspondence: Dr A-L Jennings, The North London Hospice and Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK.
A modified version of this abstract appears in ACP Journal Club and Evidence-Based Medicine.