Dyspnea has been defined as the unpleasant sensation of difficult breathing and the reaction to that sensation. Dyspnea research, however, has largely used a unidimensional, sensory model of dyspnea devoid of the affective and motivational dimensions that uniquely characterize this sensation in clinical populations. Dyspnea might be more comprehensively viewed as a nociceptive phenomenon which, like pain, has affective dimensions expressed as distress in response to aversiveness. A multidimensional, ecologic model of the dyspnea experience is presented that incorporates nociceptive sensation properties and is suggestive of new directions for dyspnea research uniquely relevant to nursing science.
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