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Eur Respir J. 2002 Aug;20(2):306-12.

Ambulatory oxygen improves quality of life of COPD patients: a randomised controlled study.

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  • 1Dept of Respiratory Services, Green Lane Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand.


It is unknown whether acute response to ambulatory oxygen (O2) predicts longer term improvement in health-related quality of life (HRQL) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. The aims of this study were 1) to assess the short-term clinical impact, as determined by HRQL, of ambulatory O2 in a 12-week, double-blind, randomised crossover study of O2 (versus cylinder compressed air) of dyspnoeic but not chronically hypoxic COPD patients with exertional desaturation < or = 88% (n=41), and 2) to determine whether either baseline characteristics or acute response to O2 predicts short-term (12 weeks) response. Primary outcome measures were Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and the short form (SF)-36. Improvements were seen in all domains of the CRQ for cylinder O2 compared with cylinder air. Significant improvements were also noted in anxiety and depression and in certain domains of the SF-36. There were 28 (68%) acute responders to cylinder O2 (defined as increase in 6-min walk > or = 54 m or decrease in post-Borg dyspnoea > or = 1) and 23 (56%) short-term responders (defined as clinically significant improvement in CRQ). However, acute and short-term responses were not correlated with no predictors of short-term response identified. At study completion, 14 (41%) of acute or short-term responders did not want to continue therapy, with 11 citing poor acceptability or tolerability. Short-term ambulatory oxygen is associated with significant improvements in health-related quality of life. These benefits cannot be predicted by baseline characteristics or acute response. Despite acute or short-term response, a substantial proportion of patients declined ambulatory oxygen.

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