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Professor Anne Bruton PhD, MA, MCSP

Professor of Respiratory Rehabilitation; NIHR Senior Research Fellow

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Anne Bruton is Professor of Respiratory Rehabilitation within Health Sciences, University of Southampton. She was the first physiotherapist to be awarded an NIHR Senior Research Fellowship (which she holds from 2013-2018) to fund her research into non-pharmacological approaches to the management of chronic respiratory disease. Anne’s research is aimed at finding and evaluating innovative solutions to respiratory problems. She and her team conduct studies that vary from exploring the patient experience, through testing new ways of monitoring respiratory disease, to clinical trials of therapies.

Breathing seems such a simple process. We take it for granted. Turns out it is really complex, and lots can go wrong.

Anne is a facilitator with the Southern Central hub of the Council for Allied Health Professions Research (formerly the Allied Health Professions Research Network) in Southampton. (SC CAHPRN)

Anne and her team have NIHR HTA funding to develop and trial digital formats for delivering breathing retraining for asthma: BREATHE (Breathing REtraining for Asthma Trial of Home Exercises) Oct 2011-2016.

Her research is about improving the lives of people with respiratory dysfunction and her work involves cross disciplinary collaborations with industrial partners, engineers and clinical colleagues. One of these collaborations (with Luxfer Gas Cylinders Ltd) led to funding from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). This resulted in the development of an innovative portable oxygen system (called the IOS – intelligent oxygen system). She also secured further NIHR funding to develop new electronic controls and feedback systems for oxygen delivery (2010-13). 

Primary research areas:
i) Non-pharmacological therapies for respiratory disorders (breathing techniques, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy).
This area encompasses breathing retraining for asthma (effectiveness, method of delivery, physiological outcomes), the development of patient-friendly, efficient and reliable portable oxygen delivery systems, and exploring perceptions of patients attending pulmonary rehabilitation.

ii) Non-invasive respiratory monitoring (computerised lung sounds, breathing pattern analysis, respiratory physiology)
This area encompasses the longitudinal monitoring of chronic respiratory disorders (such as asthma and COPD), and baseline/outcome assessments to determine the effectiveness of specific respiratory interventions. The team are developing novel techniques for use in both acute and home settings.

iii) Finding strategies to facilitate adherence to respiratory therapies and promote self-management.
This area runs as an essential binding thread through all my research programmes. At present Anne's main interest is in facilitating adherence to breathing therapies, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapies.

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Research interests

Improving the patient experience of living with respiratory disease
Diagnosis and monitoring of respiratory problems
Non-pharmacological management of respiratory disorders
Breathing pattern analysis and modification
Lung sound analysis

Research group

Active Living and Rehabilitation

Research project(s)

Patient perspectives in COPD: activities, social participation and pulmonary rehabilitation

People with lung disorders frequently require oxygen therapy to alleviate their symptoms. However, many patients do not use their oxygen as prescribed, due to problems with the equipment. This programme of work was funded by the Dept of Health to develop a new patient-friendly portable oxygen system for patients with chronic lung disease (2006-2010).

Does Behaviour Change Counselling increase levels of physical activity in patients with asthma? - Dormant

A study to assess the feasibility and patient acceptability of Behaviour Change Counselling in negotiating the role of physical activity in the management of asthma (2009-2010).

Computerised lung sound analysis as an outcome measure for physiotherapy airway clearance techniques - Dormant

A PhD programme of work investigating the use of computerised lung sound analysis as a potential outcome measure for physiotherapy airway clearance techniques (2005-2008).

A randomised controlled trial of invasive acupuncture for the treatment of hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) - Dormant

A PhD programme of work involving a randomised controlled trial to examine the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment to standard therapy over 4 weeks (2006-2010).

A preliminary study into the reliability of breathing parameters measured using the LifeShirt® during the slow breathing technique - Dormant

An MSc project into the reliability of breathing parameters measured using the LifeShirt® during the slow breathing technique (2008).

Adventitious lung sounds as indicators of severity and recovery of lung pathology and sputum location

Collaborative project with Portuguese investigators to assess if added lung sounds are responsive to change (treatment) and can therefore be used as an outcome measure, enabling clinicians to monitor patients and assess the effectiveness of respiratory treatments (2010-12).

BREATHE (Breathing Retraining for Asthma Trial of Home Exercise)

Although effective medicinal treatment exists for asthma, many people continue to have distressing symptoms and impaired quality of life. People with asthma have expressed interest in non-drug asthma treatments, particularly in breathing exercises. Several recent studies have shown benefits from a short course of breathing exercises taught by a respiratory physiotherapist for people with asthma who remained symptomatic despite usual treatment. We believe that many NHS patients could potentially benefit from these exercises, but unfortunately, there is currently not enough access to suitable trained physiotherapists able to provide such a service. We propose to provide the same breathing training programme that we have previously shown to be effective when taught 'face-to-face' by a physiotherapist in the form of a DVD, or internet download. Patients will use this in their own home at times convenient to them, in addition to their standard treatment (e.g. with inhalers). We will find out whether this type of instruction is better than the 'usual care' that is currently provided, and whether it is as good as the 'face to face' physiotherapist instruction (which is more expensive and less convenient for patients).

Rehabilitation for elderly COPD patients and their families: promoting a comprehensive, integrated intervention based on ICF

e main goal of this project is to promote ICF’s use in developing a comprehensive program to support elderly (over 64 years old) patients with COPD and their families.

GO2-digital (New Generation Oxygen Supplies with Digital Patient Interface)

This programme of work has been funded by the Dept of Health to follow on from the ‘Advanced Ambulatory Oxygen Systems’ project. This programme of work will develop novel controls and feedback devices on oxygen delivery systems to increase patient adherence and provide clinicians and providers with valuable feedback information (2010-2013).

Computerised lung sound analysis in healthy people and patients with COPD

A PhD programme of work exploring potential relationships between lung sound characteristics measured by computer aided lung sound analysis (CALSA) and airway dimensions measured by high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) in healthy people and patients with COPD.

Computerised lung sound analysis to monitor postoperative pulmonary complications in patients with cardiac surgery

A PhD programme of work investigating the potential for computerised lung sound analysis to monitor and predict post-operative pulmonary complications in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery (2010-2013).

The experiences and expectations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients referred to Pulmonary Rehabilitation programmes

A PhD programme of qualitative work exploring patients perceptions of pulmonary rehabilitation and their COPD (2008-2012)


The DIPSS (Integrating Digital Interventions into Patient Self-Management Support) project has received funding of £2 million from the NIHR to examine patient digital self-management with healthcare professional support in primary care. Our aim is to develop digital behaviour change interventions for asthma and hypertension self-management, which will be examined in feasibility studies and full RCT (hypertension only). Issues surrounding the feasibility, acceptability, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of digital intervention delivery will be explored with patients and healthcare professionals for each condition.

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Book Chapters

  • Bruton, A. (2010). Respiratory management in neurological rehabilitation. In M. Stokes, & E. Stack (Eds.), Physical Management in Neurological Rehabilitation. 3rd edition London, UK: Elsevier Sciences.
  • Bruton, A., Ellis-Hill, C., & National Physiotherapy Research Network (2009). Collecting good quality data (quantitative, qualitative and mixed). In A. P. Moore, & P. Lyon (Eds.), National Physiotherapy Research Network. Getting involved in research. A pocket guide (pp. 60-65). London, UK: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
  • Stokes, M., & Bruton, A. (2009). How to start. In A. P. Moore, & P. Lyon (Eds.), National Physiotherapy Research Network. Getting involved in research. A pocket guide (pp. 14-19). London, UK: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.




Research methodology to Masters and Doctoral students

Respiratory physiotherapy to Masters and Undergraduate students

Professor Anne Bruton
University of Southampton Health Sciences Building 45 Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 67

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