TUESDAY, May 3, 2022 (HealthDay News) — An online breathing and well-being program can improve the mental health component of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in long COVID, according to a study published online April 27 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Keir E.J. Philip, M.R.C.P., from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial in patients who had been referred from 51 U.K.-based collaborating long COVID clinics. Participants were recovering from COVID-19 with ongoing breathlessness, with or without anxiety, at least four weeks after symptom onset. Following clinical assessment, participants were randomly assigned to immediate participation in the English National Opera (ENO) Breathe program, focusing on breathing retraining using singing techniques, or to usual care; 150 participants were recruited and randomly assigned between April 22 and May 25, 2021 (74 to ENO Breathe and 76 to usual care).

The researchers found that ENO Breathe was associated with an improvement in the RAND 36-item short form survey instrument mental health composite score compared with usual care (regression coefficient, 2.42; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.03 to 4.80; P = 0.047), but not with improvement in the physical health composite score (regression coefficient, 0.60; 95 percent confidence interval, −1.33 to 2.52; P = 0.54). The visual analog score for breathlessness favored ENO Breathe participants (regression coefficient, −10.48; 95 percent confidence interval, −17.23 to −3.73; P = 0.0026). No significant differences were seen in other secondary outcomes.

“This study suggests mind-body interventions targeting HRQoL could have a potential role as complementary additional elements of long COVID management,” the authors write.

Several authors work for ENO, which developed ENO Breathe and provided the service to participants free of charge.

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