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31 March 2022

100 patients recruited into the Better-B trial

The EU-funded Better-B project reaches a significant milestone with 100 patients recruited into the trial.

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The Better-B research programme (BETter Treatments for Refractory and chronic Breathlessness) aims to improve the care of patients suffering from severe breathlessness caused by long-term lung conditions.

Survey findings from the early stage of the programme suggest there are wide variations in how breathlessness is managed. People are receiving different levels of care based on where they are treated and the disease that they have. Some people may be seen by a respiratory specialist, while others may be treated by palliative care specialists. There is also a need for better treatments to manage the condition.

The trial is testing an antidepressant called mirtazapine to see the effect on a person’s breathlessness and quality of life. 100 people are now taking part in this trial in centres in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Australia. Researchers hope to establish whether or not mirtazapine will be another effective treatment option that can be offered to people living with severe breathlessness. This could have huge benefits for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or interstitial lung disease (ILD), including ILD caused by COVID-19.

The teams are now hoping to recruit even more numbers to the trial. At the end of the project, a new European guideline will be produced for respiratory and palliative care specialists. This will provide expert-led advice to professionals on how to best manage breathlessness.

We are delighted to have 100 patients included in our trial and see the enthusiasm of all teams across Europe to improve the care of these patients whose lives are severely affected by breathlessness. This trial is even more relevant than when it first started due to breathlessness being a key COVID-19 symptom. We hope that many more patients will volunteer their time to take part in the trial to help our search for better treatments and new ways of managing breathlessness.

Professor Irene Higginson, BETTER-B lead

I was invited to take part in the Better -B trial. This was my first experience of any research study. I felt supported throughout the trial and I could ask any question however small or just to get reassurance. The programme was easy to follow. Thank you to the Research Nurse for your kindness and holding my hand throughout the process

Angela Clarke, a patient included in the trial

Find out more

If you are living with severe breathlessness, or you care for someone who is, you can find out more about the trial by contacting us at

You can visit our website for more information at

Read the full results of the survey conducted in the early stages of the programme.

In this story

Irene Higginson

Executive Dean, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

Sabrina Bajwah

Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Care

Nilay Hepgul

Senior Trial Manager

Adejoke Oluyase

Research Associate

Charles Normand

Professor of Economics of Palliative Care & Rehabilitation

Matthew Maddocks

Professor of Health Services Research & Rehabilitation