Respiratory Medicine

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Service lead: Dr Sarah Lunn

Who is in the team?

  • Dr Sarah Lunn, Lead Clinical Psychologist

Who do we provide services for?

The respiratory psychology service (renamed as the breathlessness support service) works closely with the hospital and community respiratory teams to support peoples’ adjustment to and self-management of their lung condition – working with conditions such as:
  • COPD
  • Chronic asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Emphysema
  • Pulmonary fibrosis.

This integrated care approach enables the psychologist to help people to reduce the impact of their lung condition through learning new strategies, re-connecting with their own coping resources and attending joint appointments with both the psychologist and their respiratory health professional.
Key areas of input include:
  • Supporting management of frightening breathlessness
  • Addressing challenges with smoking cessation
  • Overcoming difficulties with treatment adherence (e.g. CPAP mask use) and helping people to cope with the losses associated with living with their condition whilst also maximizing their capacity for improved functioning and mood.

Input is offered individually, with significant others or during multi-disciplinary led pulmonary rehabilitation groups. Inpatient work is also offered in order to explain the role of psychology (especially when individuals are unsure of the usefulness of this input) or to start psychological interventions when needed.
Therapy approaches include:
  • Systemic
  • Narrative
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Mindfulness and Motivational Interviewing
Please see the further information links below for two publications on the role and value of having a psychologist within the respiratory multi-disciplinary team.


Referrals can be made by any member of the respiratory team (e.g. respiratory doctors, specialist physiotherapists, respiratory nurse specialists).
Prior to referral, it is important that the referrer discusses the option of psychology input with the individual in order to explain how this could benefit them and to obtain consent for a referral.
Patients can also request a psychology referral during their respiratory appointment.
If the patient feels unable to wait until their appointment, s/he (or someone on their behalf) can contact the Respiratory secretary, on 020 7288 5353 and ask her to inform the most recently seen respiratory health professional of this request for a referral. The healthcare professional can then arrange this referral (unless there are clear reasons why s/he thinks this is not appropriate).

Waiting times

On receipt of the ICE referral, we telephone or write to patients inviting them to an assessment within six weeks.
  • Waiting time from the first assessment appointment to second therapy appointment is less than 12 weeks
  • Inpatients are seen within five working days of the ICE referral (unless the referrer requests a delay for clinical reasons)

Advice leaflets

Further information

Chronic Respiratory Disease journal article (2017) -
Managing respiratory disease: The role of a psychologist within the multidisciplinary team
Page last updated: 06 May 2022
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