Non-medical devices for the management of chronic breathlessness

About the project

Title: Non-medical devices for the management of chronic breathlessness: A scoping review of device use, barriers and facilitators for patients, carers and clinicians
Funder: This work was supported by the INSPIRE grant generously awarded to Hull York Medical School by the Academy of Medical Sciences through the Wellcome Trust [Ref: IR5\1018].
Time frame: Completed
Contact for more details: Dr Flavia Swan

Non-medical devices offer important benefits for patient self-management of chronic breathlessness.

However, we know little about the experiences of those who use or recommend them for the management of chronic breathlessness.

The study examines the published evidence regarding patient, carer and clinician use of non-medical devices (handheld fan, mobility aids and inspiratory muscle training {IMT} devices) for chronic breathlessness management, and the potential barriers and facilitators to day-to-day use in a range of settings.

Database searches were conducted to find all the studies of non-medical devices.


Seven studies were included. These focussed on patient use of non-medical devices. Patients found the fan easy to use at home. Mobility aids were used mainly for outdoor activities. Outdoor use for both devices were associated with embarrassment.

Key barriers included: appearance; credibility; self-stigma; technical specifications. Common facilitators were ease of use, clinical benefit and feeling safe with the device.

The review highlighted the lack of studies on carers, clinicians and IMT devices.


Prihartadi AS, Impelliziere Licastro G, Pearson M, et al Non-medical devices for chronic breathlessness: use, barriers and facilitators for patients, carers and clinicians - a scoping reviewBMJ Supportive & Palliative Care Published Online First: 02 July 2021. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2021-002962