The impact of sport on the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of people with chronic breathlessness: A mixed-methods systematic review

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Sport participation may have quality-of-life benefits for people with chronic breathlessness; however, its feasibility and impact on health are unknown. We aimed to synthesise the scientific literature concerning the impact of sport for people with chronic breathlessness.

Data sources
Searches of MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Embase, SPORTDiscus and Google Scholar were conducted (May 2023).

Review methods
Studies were included if they assessed the impact of sport with participants who were likely to suffer from chronic breathlessness due to an underlying condition (e.g. severe asthma, heart failure). A convergent-segregated approach to synthesis in accordance with the JBI methodology for mixed-methods reviews was utilised, including meta-analytic and meta-aggregation analyses.

A total of 22 studies met the inclusion criteria. Studies sampled 1017 participants from 13 different countries, with sample sizes ranging from 5 to 185. Causes of breathlessness consisted of chronic respiratory diseases (9 studies) and coronary heart disease (13 studies). Design-wise, 18 reported quantitative methods, 3 qualitative, and 1 mixed-methods.

Sports were well-adhered to with only minor/unrelated adverse events reported. Improvements in exercise capacity were observed although there was no impact on health-related quality of life. Other quantitative outcomes extracted varied widely across studies, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions. Participation in sports was reliably recorded at intensity consistent with moderate-to-vigorous activity despite being self-paced. Qualitative themes emphasised the positive elements of sport participation, namely, social cohesion, the capacity to incorporate culture, and the idea that participation is enjoyable rather than a necessary chore to maintain one’s health.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: CB is supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC). SH (Advanced fellow, NIHR300856) is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


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