Understanding changes in dyspnoea perception in obstructive lung disease after mindfulness training

Alice Malpass*, Gene Feder, James W. Dodd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
289 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction Dyspnoea has been defined as a subjective experience of breathing discomfort that consists of qualitatively distinct sensations that vary in intensity'. However, the majority of available dyspnoea measures treat it as a single entity and rely on quantitative methodology. We propose that qualitative research can enhance our understanding of dyspnoea, in particular, how perception varies so much among patients with similar disease states. In this paper, we focus on how a specific type of inner attention-mindfulness-may alter perceptions of dyspnoea. The aim is to characterise mindfulness attention, which impacts on perceptions of dyspnoea and relate these to the multidimensional model of dyspnoea. We explore how an individual can change their perception and therefore relationship to similar disease states. Method 22 patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were recruited from primary and secondary care to an 8-week course in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). 12 patients took part in an in-depth qualitative interview 2 months after completing the MBCT course. Data were recorded, transcribed and then analysed using a framework approach, drawing on components of the multidimensional model of dyspnoea (multidimensional dyspnoea profile, MDP). Results We found that MBCT training involves developing three types of mindful attention (broad attention, informative attention and re-directive attention), which impact on perceptions of the sensory dimension of dyspnoea. MBCT appears to target affective and sensory perceptions articulated in the MDP model. Conclusion More research is needed into how mindfulness-based interventions may mediate the relationship between affective experience and the sensory perception of dyspnoea symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000309
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open Respiratory Research
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • perception of asthma/breathlessness
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • respiratory measurement


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