Dr Sara Booth was educated in palliative care at St Christopher’s Hospice, London, where she started her breathlessness research.
At Sir Michael Sobell House, Oxford, she was the first senior registrar, set up the hospital support team, and was awarded an NHS R&D Training Fellowship to continue her breathlessness research.
Dr Booth was appointed to the first consultant post in palliative medicine at Addenbrookes Hospital with a brief to develop a hospital palliative care service. At Addenbrookes she was able to see a much wider spectrum of people with breathlessness – non-malignant as well as malignant disease.
Dr Booth built relationships with the respiratory medicine department and primary care who were keen to improve their care of breathless patients, there being no real evidence base at that time. Dr Booth built a research-based breathlessness service for people with this distressing and common symptom of any aetiology.
The key building blocks to the service were the use of the fan, having conducted a landmark oxygen versus air study at St Christopher’s Hospice; the importance of helping people to become more active , having evaluated the shuttle walking test while in Oxford, establishing that physiotherapists and occupational therapists were critical to the team; and the vital need to care for the carers of breathless people, from research conducted in Cambridge.
Dr Booth set up and led a research programme, building on this earlier work, which demonstrated the effectiveness of her multi-professional, psychologically informed approach to breathlessness.
There are now an increasing number of Breathlessness Services, of different models, around the world. The use of the fan, for example, is now widely supported.
Dr Booth and current members of BIS have taught and worked with clinicians across the world with special links to Australia and Hong Kong. It is clear that the approach could have importance in the management of the many thousands of people who do not currently receive rehabilitation for their medical and surgical conditions; it had been an early aim of Dr Booth for BIS to become a long-term conditions service.
Dr Booth has written over 120 peer reviewed articles as well as books and chapters. She has presented at a broad range of international and national speaking engagements.