Journal Article

Bearing witness to the challenges of breathlessness


The community respiratory nurse specialist (CRNS) supports patients at different stages of lung disease, witnessing the challenge of living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive illness for which there is no cure. Breathlessness is the most prominent and debilitating symptom experienced; it is frightening, distressing and very difficult to manage. Little is known about the experience of CRNSs in witnessing the distress of patients, specifically those experiencing breathlessness. The nurse may have cared for such patients over many months or years. In witnessing this distress, CRNSs engage in emotional labour, which is associated with burnout and poor-quality care. This paper seeks to identify bearing witness to suffering and vulnerability as components of emotional labour in the context of the CRNS role. It highlights the need for research to explore the experience of CRNSs and insights into supporting people with long-term breathlessness. It is more likely that wellsupported staff can provide sustained, supportive care to patients living with breathlessness.

Attached files


Speakman, Lucy
Butcher, Dan
Schutz, Sue

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Nursing


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-04-13

“This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in British Journal of Community Nursing, copyright © MA Healthcare, after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see"

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This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Bearing witness to the challenges of breathlessness


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