Assessing cough symptom severity in refractory or unexplained chronic cough: findings from patient focus groups and an international expert panel

Elena Kum, Gordon H Guyatt, Caroline Munoz, Suzanne Beaudin, Shelly-Anne Li, Rayid Abdulqawi, Huda Badri, Louis-Philippe Boulet, Ruchong Chen, Peter Dicpinigaitis, Lieven Dupont, Stephen K Field, Cynthia L French, Peter G Gibson, Richard S Irwin, Paul Marsden, Lorcan McGarvey, Jaclyn A Smith, Woo-Jung Song, Paul M O'ByrneImran Satia

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Background: Cough symptom severity represents an important subjective end-point to assess the impact of therapies for patients with refractory or unexplained chronic cough (RCC/UCC). As existing instruments assessing the severity of cough are neither widely available nor tested for measurement properties, we aim to develop a new patient-reported outcome measure addressing cough severity.
Objective: The aim of this study was to establish items and domains that would inform development of a
new cough severity instrument.
Methods: Three focus groups involving 16 adult patients with RCC/UCC provided data that we analysed using directed content analysis. Discussions led to consensus among an international panel of 15 experts on candidate items and domains to assess cough severity.
Results: The patient focus group provided 48 unique items arranged under broad domains of urge-to-cough
sensations and cough symptom. Feedback from expert panel members confirmed the appropriateness of
items and domains, and provided an additional subdomain related to cough triggers. The final conceptual
framework comprised 51 items in the following domains: urge-to-cough sensations (subdomains:
frequency and intensity) and cough symptom (subdomains: triggers, control, frequency, fit/bout duration, intensity, quality and associated features/sequelae).
Conclusions: Consensus findings from patients and international experts established domains of urge-tocough and cough symptom with associated subdomains and relevant items. The results support item
generation and content validity for a novel patient-reported outcome measure for use in health research and
clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalERJ Open Research
Issue number1
Early online date14 Mar 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 14 Mar 2022


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