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J Palliat Med. 2012 Dec;15(12):1374-81. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2012.0249. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Acceptability and preferences of six different routes of drug application for acute breathlessness: a comparison study between the United Kingdom and Germany.

Author information

  • 1Department of Palliative Medicine and Clinical Trials Unit, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany. steffen@steffensimon.de



Opioids are the drugs of choice for management of breathlessness in advanced disease, but acute episodic breathlessness remains difficult to manage. New routes of opioid applications with quicker onset of action seem attractive for the management of episodic breathlessness.


This study aimed to determine the acceptability and preference of different routes of opioid applications in patients suffering from breathlessness due to advanced disease.


The study consisted of structured face-to-face interviews with patients suffering from breathlessness due to lung cancer (LC), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic heart failure (CHF), and motor neurone disease (MND). Images and explanation were used to illustrate six application forms (oral, inhaled, sublingual, intranasal, buccal, transmucosal).


Participants numbered 119 (UK n=48, Germany n=71), 60% male, mean age 67.7 years (SD 9.9); 50% suffered from COPD. Inhaled was the most accepted (87%) and preferred (68%) route of application, followed by sublingual (45%/13%) and intranasal (42%/8%). The oral was least accepted (24%) and least preferred (9%) although nearly all participants had previous experiences with it (97%). Ratings were similar in both countries but different for preferences of sublingual (UK>Germany) and intranasal (Germany>UK). In general, participants from the UK rated more often "yes" for acceptability of all routes compared to Germany.


Inhaled was the most accepted and preferred route of application, but no route seemed to be acceptable to all patients. Therefore, individual patient preferences should be explored before drug prescription to enhance compliance and convenience.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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