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Attitude change and increased confidence with management of chronic breathlessness following a health professional training workshop: a survey evaluation

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Johnston, Kylie N. 
Young, Mary 
Kay, Debra 
Booth, Sara 
Spathis, Anna 


Abstract: Background: Clinicians and people living with chronic breathlessness have expressed a need to better understand and manage this symptom. The aim of this study was to evaluate a 3-day health professional training workshop on the practical management of chronic breathlessness. Methods: Workshop design and delivery were based on current understandings and clinical models of chronic breathlessness management, principles of transformative learning, and included sessions co-designed with people living with breathlessness. Registrants were invited to complete pre and post-workshop surveys. Pre and 1-week post-workshop online questionnaires assessed familiarity and confidence about workshop objectives (0[lowest]-10[highest] visual analogue scale), attitudes and practices regarding chronic breathlessness (agreement with statements on 5-point Likert scales). Post-workshop, participants were asked to describe implementation plans and anticipated barriers. Baseline familiarity and confidence were reported as mean (SD) and change examined with paired t-tests. Pre-post attitudes and practices were summarised by frequency/percentages and change examined non-parametrically (5-point Likert scale responses) or using a McNemar test of change (binary responses). Results: Forty-seven of 55 registrants joined the study; 39 completed both pre and post-workshop questionnaires (35 female; 87% clinicians; median 8 years working with people with chronic breathlessness). Post-workshop, greatest gains in confidence were demonstrated for describing biopsychosocial concepts unpinning chronic breathlessness (mean change confidence = 3.2 points; 95% CI 2.7 to 4.0, p < 0.001). Respondents significantly changed their belief toward agreement that people are able to rate their breathlessness intensity on a scale (60 to 81% agreement) although only a minority strongly agreed with this statement at both time points (pre 11%, post 22%). The largest shift in attitude was toward agreement (z statistic 3.74, p < 0.001, effect size r = 0.6) that a person’s experience of breathlessness should be used to guide treatment decisions (from 43 to 73% strong agreement). Participants’ belief that cognitive behavioural strategies are effective for relief of breathlessness changed further toward agreement after the workshop (81 to 100%, McNemar test chi- square = 5.14, p = 0.02). Conclusion: The focus of this training on biopsychosocial understandings of chronic breathlessness and involvement of people living with this symptom were valued. These features were identified as facilitators of change in fundamental attitudes and preparedness for practice.



Research Article, Career choice, professional education and development, (3–10): chronic breathlessness, Education, Health professional

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BMC Medical Education

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BioMed Central
Health Translation South Australia through the Medical Research Future Fund Applied Research Translation Program (none)