Background: Short burst oxygen therapy (SBOT) is widely prescribed in the UK with little evidence of benefit. We aimed to examine whether SBOT benefits patients when undertaking normal activities at home, among those who already use it. Methods: 22 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were included in the study. All regularly use SBOT at home and claim that it helps them. Each patient chose two daily living activities for which they used SBOT for relief of breathlessness. Patients were then randomised to use either an air or oxygen gas cylinder. At least 15 minutes later, the same activity was performed but using the other gas cylinder. The same process was then repeated for the second chosen activity. The main endpoints were subjective and objective times to recovery, analysed for each activity separately or taking the average over the two activities. A paired statistical analysis was performed. Results: All patients used SBOT with nasal prongs post-exercise. Using the average recovery time over two activities for each patient, the mean objective recovery time was 38 seconds lower using oxygen (95% CI -81 to +5) and 34 seconds lower when considering subjective recovery times (95% CI -69 to +2). 5 patients were correctly able to distinguish oxygen from air after both activites and there was a suggestion that their recovery times were lower than those who did not correctly identify the gases (22 vs 80 seconds using objective recovery times, and 20 vs 91 seconds using subjective recovery times), though this was a subgroup analysis based on only 5 patients with non-significant results. Conclusions: There is some evidence that SBOT shortens recovery time after activities of daily living in a selected group of patients with COPD, but the effect is small. There appears to be a subgroup of patients who may benefit to a much greater degree.
- activities of daily living
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- randomised controlled trial