Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

One evidence base; three stories: do opioids relieve chronic breathlessness?

Ekstrom, Magnus; Currow, David C.; Johnson, Miriam J.; Ekström, Magnus; Bajwah, Sabrina; Bland, J. Martin; Currow, David; Hussain, Jamilla; Johnson, Miriam


Magnus Ekstrom

David C. Currow

Miriam J. Johnson

Magnus Ekström

Sabrina Bajwah

J. Martin Bland

David Currow

Jamilla Hussain


Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to The efficacy of low-dose systemic opioids for chronic breathlessness was questioned by the recent Cochrane review by Barnes et al We examined the reasons for this conflicting finding and re-evaluated the efficacy of systemic opioids. Compared with previous meta-analyses, Barnes et al reported a smaller effect and lower precision, but did not account for matched data of crossover trials (11/12 included trials) and added a risk-of-bias criterion (sample size). When re-analysed to account for crossover data, opioids decreased breathlessness (standardised mean differences -0.32; -0.18 to -0.47; I2=44.8%) representing a clinically meaningful reduction of 0.8 points (0-10 numerical rating scale), consistent across meta-analyses.


Ekstrom, M., Currow, D. C., Johnson, M. J., Ekström, M., Bajwah, S., Bland, J. M., …Johnson, M. (2018). One evidence base; three stories: do opioids relieve chronic breathlessness?. Thorax, 73(1), 88-90.

Journal Article Type Letter
Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 13, 2017
Publication Date 2018
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 13, 2017
Journal Thorax
Print ISSN 0040-6376
Electronic ISSN 1468-3296
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Issue 1
Pages 88-90
Keywords Palliative care, COPD pharmacology, Perception of asthma/breathlessness
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2017 University of Hull
Additional Information This is a description of an article accepted for publication in: Thorax, 2017


You might also like

Downloadable Citations