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European Respiratory Society Clinical Practice Guideline on symptom management for adults with serious respiratory illness

Anne E. Holland, Anna Spathis, Kristoffer Marsaa, Claudia Bausewein, Zainab Ahmadi, Angela T. Burge, Amy Pascoe, Adelle M. Gadowski, Phil Collis, Tessa Jelen, Charles C. Reilly, Lynn F. Reinke, Lorena Romero, Anne-Marie Russell, Ravijyot Saggu, John Solheim, Guido Vagheggini, Chantal Vandendungen, Marlies Wijsenbeek, Thomy Tonia, Natasha Smallwood, Magnus Ekström




Clinical practice guidelines

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European Respiratory Journal 2024; DOI: 10.1183/13993003.00335-2024


Respiratory symptoms are ubiquitous and impair health-related quality of life in people with respiratory disease. This European Respiratory Society (ERS) task force aimed to provide recommendations for symptomatic treatment in people with serious respiratory illness.

The ERS task force comprised 16 members, including representatives of people with serious respiratory illness and informal caregivers. Seven questions were formulated, six in the "Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome" (PICO) format, which were addressed with full systematic reviews and evidence assessed using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE). One question was addressed narratively. An "evidence-to-decision" framework was used to formulate recommendations.

To treat symptoms in people with serious respiratory illness, the task force suggests the use of graded exercise therapy (conditional recommendation, low certainty of evidence); and suggests the use of a multicomponent services, handheld fan and breathing techniques (conditional recommendations, very low certainty of evidence).

The task force suggests not to use opioids (conditional recommendation, very low certainty of evidence); and suggests either administering or not administering supplemental oxygen therapy (conditional recommendation, low certainty of evidence). The task force suggests that needs assessment tools may be used as part of a comprehensive needs assessment, but do not replace patient centred care and shared decision making (conditional recommendation, low certainty of evidence). The low certainty of evidence, modest impact of interventions on patient-centred outcomes, and absence of effective strategies to ameliorate cough highlight the need for new approaches to reduce symptoms and enhance wellbeing for individuals who live with serious respiratory illness.

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