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Patterns of breathlessness and associated consulting behaviour: results of an online survey
  1. Amany F Elbehairy1,2,
  2. Jennifer K Quint3,
  3. Judith Rogers4,
  4. Michael Laffan4,
  5. Michael I Polkey1,
  6. Nicholas S Hopkinson1
  1. 1 National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt
  3. 3 Respiratory Epidemiology, Occupational Medicine and Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  4. 4 British Lung Foundation, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicholas S Hopkinson, National Heart and Lung Institute, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College, London SW3 6NP, UK; n.hopkinson{at}


The online British Lung Foundation Breath Test provides an opportunity to study the relationship between breathlessness, common sociobehavioural risk factors and interaction with healthcare. We analysed data from 356 799 responders: 71% were ≥50 years old and 18% were smokers. 20% reported limiting breathlessness (Medical Research Council breathlessness score ≥3), and the majority of these (85%) worried about their breathing; of these, 29% had not sought medical advice. Of those who had, 58% reported that the advice received had not helped their breathlessness. Limiting breathlessness was associated with being older, physically inactive, smoking and a higher body mass index. These data suggest a considerable unmet need associated with breathlessness as well as possibilities for intervention.

  • breathlessness
  • health care service
  • health seeking behaviour
  • unmet need
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  • Contributors The authors meet the criteria for authorship as recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. All the authors played a role in the content and writing of the manuscript. In addition, NSH provided the original idea for the study. JR and ML collected the data. AFE performed the data analysis and prepared it for presentation. JKQ and MIP had input in writing up the final manuscript.

  • Funding AFE received financial support from the British Academy of Medical Sciences through the Daniel Turnberg UK/Middle East Travel Fellowship scheme and the European Respiratory Society Short-Term Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The present analysis of the anonymised data collected was approved by the BLF information governance process. External ethical approval was deemed not necessary.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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