The focus of this issue of Breathe is “treatment burden”, which is the work that patients must do to implement medical treatments, for example, taking medications, going to medical appointments, making lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, smoking cessation, etc.) and the effect of this workload on patient functioning and wellbeing . The treatment workload associated with managing a respiratory condition can be substantial [2–6]. Treatment burden is distinct from “disease burden”, which describes the morbidity and mortality associated with a disease. In this issue of Breathe we hear from patients with different respiratory conditions [7–9] as well as from carers  about the challenges associated with their healthcare workload. Their accounts highlight the importance of healthcare professionals working together with patients and carers to reduce treatment burden.