Randomised double-blind controlled trial of oxygen versus air to palliate intractable end-of-life dyspnoea when Pa02 >55 [ 2006 - 2008 ]

Also known as: Palliative oxygen for the relief of breathlessness

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof David Currow (Principal investigator) ,  Prof Amy Abernethy Prof Alan Crockett Prof Christine Mcdonald Prof Iven Young
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Brief description Shortness of breath at the end-of-life is one of the most feared symptoms. Unlike most other symptoms, it worsens as death approaches. Despite the fact that more than 50,000 Australian will die an expected death in the next year, of whom the majority will have breathlessness toward the end-of-life, we know little about how best to treat this symptom. Oxygen is frequently introduced but we have not identified whether it is more effective than medical air, and, if it is more effective, which patients would most benefit from it. Because of this lack of evidence, oxygen is only funded in Australia in community settings for people who have severely low oxygen levels in their blood. Palliative oxygen is provided on a compassionate basis at times but this is on an ad hoc basis and does not ensure equitable access for people at the end of life who experience shortness of breath. This multi-centre study will compare oxygen and air, with neither the participant nor caring clinicians knowing which treatment they will receive. After careful explanation, volunteers who agree to participate will be asked to use the oxygen machine for at least 15 hours each day for 7 days and fill out a diary twice each day. Five centres across Australia are planning to enroll 240 participants in this study. Outcomes will include whether the sensation of breathlessness has improved, the overall quality of life while being treated, the ability to perform activities of daily living and any side effects experienced. This study is eagerly awaited by clinicians and health planners not only in Australia but in North America and Europe. This study will provide data in a long-standing international debate about the role of oxygen in people with relatively normal levels of oxygen in their blood who suffer from shortness of breath at the end-of-life.

Funding Amount $AUD 463,318.97

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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