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Optimising the therapeutic use of oxygen in Australia

Christine F McDonald and Alan J Crockett
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (10): 526-527.
Published online: 16 November 2009

We need a national register of home oxygen therapy

Oxygen has been used for therapeutic purposes for centuries, but until relatively recently no scientifically rigorous trials had confirmed its true benefits. In the early 1980s, two landmark randomised trials — the Medical Research Council (MRC) trial and the Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial (NOTT) — showed that continuous or semi-continuous oxygen therapy for between 15 and 24 hours a day provided a mortality benefit in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and severe hypoxaemia.1,2 Survival rates for those prescribed “continuous” oxygen (in reality about 19 hours per day) in the NOTT were around 80% at 2 years, compared with around 60% for the “nocturnal” group using oxygen for only 12 hours per day. In the MRC study, in which patients were randomly allocated to receive oxygen for 15 hours per day versus no oxygen, survival rates at 5 years were 67% versus 45%, respectively.

  • Christine F McDonald1
  • Alan J Crockett2

  • 1 Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Austin Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Primary Care Respiratory Research Unit, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.


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