Dance for people with chronic breathlessness: a transdisciplinary approach to intervention development

Samantha Harrison, Krzysztof Bierski, Naomi Burn, Sarah McLusky, Victoria McFaull, Andrew Russell, Gaynor Williams, Sian Williams, Jane Macnaughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: A transdisciplinary research approach was used to develop a holistic understanding of the physical and psycho-social benefits of dance as an intervention for people living with chronic breathlessness.
Methods: The dance programme was developed in collaboration with British Lung Foundation Breathe Easy members in NE England (Darlington) and London (Haringey). Members of the Darlington group were invited to participate in the programme. An exercise instructor, trained and mentored by a dance facilitator, delivered 60 to 90-minute dance classes for 10 consecutive weeks. Exercise capacity, mobility, quadriceps strength, health status, mood and interoceptive awareness were assessed at baseline and after the 10-week programme. Second-to-second heart rate (HR) monitoring was conducted during one of the classes.
Results: Ten individuals were enrolled (n=8 females). Mean (SD) age was 70 (24); BMI 29.7 (8.1) kg.m2; one participant used oxygen and one a walking aid. Seven completed the dance programme. Improvements in all outcome measures were detected, with the exception of the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA), which individuals found hard to comprehend. Eight participants wore HR monitors during one dance class and spent on average 43.5 (21.8) minutes with HR corresponding to at least moderate intensity physical activity (≥64% HRmax). People found the dance classes enjoyable and those with relevant past experiences who are optimistic, committed to staying well and playful readily adopted the programme.
Conclusion: A dance programme bringing both physical and psycho-social benefits for people with chronic breathlessness is acceptable when co-produced and evaluated through a transdisciplinary approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open Respiratory Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Oct 2020


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