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Background: Despite the prevalence of dyspnoea (the pathological term for breathlessness) amongst the general population and the diagnostic importance of dyspnoea for respiratory illness, public awareness of dyspnoea is poor with an estimated two million people with undiagnosed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder in the UK. We explore whether therapeutic letter writing is a valuable arts health approach for those living with breathlessness.
Methods: Eighty (80) participants took part in 10 workshops held in community-based settings. The overall approach was qualitative. We analysed the data thematically.
Results: Informed by theories of story structure, our analysis explores letters written to the breath in terms of there being a protagonist, antagonist, a process of recognition and reconciliation.
Conclusions: Writing a letter to the breath facilitates new ways of relating to breathlessness. Letters create a personal narrative and workshops create a public story. Further research should explore whether therapeutic letter writing can support communication about breathlessness with clinicians.
- qualitative data
- therapeutic letter writing
- story structure
- public story