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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of deep breathing exercises on the pain levels in patients who presented to the emergency department (ED) with pain as their chief complaint. A secondary purpose was to measure the impact of deep breathing teaching on indicators of patient satisfaction.

Methods: This was an observational study of patients who presented to the ED with pain as their chief complaint to an urban level one Emergency Department. Patients were randomized into a control group and an experimental group. The control group received the usual treatment for pain. The experimental group received the usual treatment for pain, but also received deep breathing exercises. For the measurement of pain prior to treatment, the brief pain inventory (BPI) was used. The visual analogy system (VAS) was used to measure pain prior to and after treatment and deep breathing were administered. For the measurement of patient satisfaction, the medical interview satisfaction scale (MISS) was used.

Results: There was no significant difference between those who received the deep breathing education and those that did not with regards to postmedication pain levels. There was however, a significant difference in customer service satisfaction within the area of doctor/patient rapport and intention to follow treatment.

Conclusion: The usefulness of deep breathing exercises was shown to be ineffective in reducing pain levels; however, the majority of those who received deep breathing education felt it was useful. The exercise was effective in increasing patient's feelings of rapport and intentions to follow their doctor's directives.

(C) 2009 Southern Medical Association