Prevalence of dysfunctional breathing in patients treated for asthma in primary care: a cross sectional survey

Source: M Thomas, RK McKinley, E Freeman, C Foy British Medical Journal 2001;322:1098-1100 (5 May)

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of dysfunctional breathing in adults with asthma treated in the community.

Design: Postal questionnaire survey using Nijmegen questionnaire

Setting: One general practice with 7033 patients.

Participants: All adult patients aged 17-65 with diagnosed asthma who were receiving treatment.

Main outcome score: Score greater than or equal to 23 or Nijmegen questionnaire.

Results: 227/307 patients returned completed questionnaires; 219 (71.3%) questionnaires were suitable for analysis. 63 participants scored greater than or equal to 23. Those scoring greater than or equal to 23 were more likely to be female than male (46/132 (35%) v 17/87 (20%), P=0.016) and were younger (mean (SD) age 44.8 (14.7) v 49.0 (13.8), P=0.05). Patients at different treatment steps of the British Thoracic Society guidelines were affected equally.

Conclusions: About a third of women and a fifth of men had scores suggestive of dysfunctional breathing. Although further studies are needed to confirm the validity of this screening tool and these findings, these prevalences suggest scope for therapeutic intervention and may explain the anecdotal success of the Buteyko method of treating asthma.