Breathing on the mind: Treating dyspnea and anxiety symptoms with biofeedback in chronic lung disease – A qualitative analysis

Anna Norweg, Brittany Hofferber, Sophia Maguire, Cheongeun Oh, Victoria H. Raveis, Naomi M. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by dysfunctional breathing patterns that contribute to impaired lung function and symptoms of dyspnea, anxiety, and abnormal carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Objective: The study objective was to measure the acceptability of a new mind-body intervention we developed called Capnography-Assisted, Learned Monitored (CALM) Breathing, implemented before pulmonary rehabilitation. Methods: CALM Breathing is a 4-week (8-session) intervention designed to treat dyspnea and anxiety in adults with COPD by targeting dysfunctional breathing behaviors (guided by end-tidal CO2 levels). CALM Breathing consists of ten core breathing exercises, CO2 biofeedback, and motivational interviewing. Using qualitative methods and semi-structured interviews immediately post-intervention, we evaluated the acceptability and participation process of CALM Breathing. Themes were identified using constant comparative analysis. Results: Sixteen participants were interviewed after receiving CALM Breathing. Three main themes of CALM Breathing were identified: (1) Process of learning self-regulated breathing, (2) Mechanisms of a mind-body intervention, (3) Clinical and implementation outcomes. Conclusions: Positive themes supported the acceptability of CALM Breathing and described participants’ process of learning more self-regulated breathing to manage their dyspnea and anxiety. Positive signals from qualitative participant feedback provided support for CALM Breathing as an intervention for COPD, but larger scale efficacy trials are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107505
JournalRespiratory Medicine
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Anxiety
  • COPD
  • Dysfunctional breathing
  • Dyspnea
  • Mind body
  • Symptom self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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