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

OBJECTIVE: 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.

RESULTS: 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.

CONCLUSIONS: 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.

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