Patients' perceptions of the potential of breathing training for asthma: A qualitative study
Background: Poor symptom control is common in asthma. Breathing training exercises may be an effective adjunct to medication; it is therefore important to understand facilitators and barriers to uptake of breathing training exercises. Aims: To gain insight into patients' perceptions of breathing training exercises designed to help control asthma symptoms. Methods: Semi-structured think-aloud interviews were conducted with 29 people with asthma about their views of a booklet on breathing training exercises. Results: Thematic analysis showed breathing training exercises were seen as acceptable in principle because they were viewed as nonpharmacological, holistic, unobtrusive, and likely to increase patient confidence in managing symptoms. Anticipated disadvantages included the time required and perceived irrelevance for those with well-controlled asthma. These views were influenced by prior experience of changing breathing, wanting to self-manage asthma, negative views of medication, and perceived asthma control/severity. Anticipated barriers to carrying out the exercises included difficulties with nose breathing, remembering to do them, and persevering with them. Anticipated facilitators included monitoring tools and social support. Conclusions: The idea of breathing training was viewed positively as an acceptable non-pharmacological treatment that patients can do discreetly to help them breathe more easily and reduce their reliance on medication. Uptake of breathing training may be greater among those who perceive their asthma as severe and/or have negative views of medication. To enhance uptake, it might be helpful to present breathing training exercises as holistic skills that can also benefit those with mild symptoms. © 2013 Primary Care Respiratory Society UK. All rights reserved.