How physicians in South India manage chronic breathlessness

About the project

Project title: How physicians in South India recognise, assess and manage people with chronic breathlessness syndrome: a thematic analysis.
Time frame: Completed
Contact for more details: Dr Sunitha Daniel, PhD student (

The purpose of this project is to explore the views of hospital physicians regarding chronic breathlessness syndrome, its recognition and management.

Views from low to middle-income countries were not included in the recent consensus definition of chronic breathlessness syndrome. 

Indian physicians (oncology, palliative care, cardiology, respiratory) from South India participated in focus groups. Three major themes (Impact, Invisibility and Purpose) were generated. Findings mirrored those in high-income countries. Chronic breathlessness as defined, was seen as prevalent with a major impact on patients, families and physicians. Non-palliative care physicians described therapeutic helplessness with poor awareness and/or ability to manage breathlessness accompanied by active avoidance. This helplessness, a perceived lack of assessment tools and lack of access to palliative care contributed to the “invisibility” of chronic breathlessness.

 A named and defined syndrome was seen as a way to improve identification and management.