BACKGROUND: Severe asthma is characterised by a variety of symptoms, which include chronic cough, however the mechanisms responsible for cough reflex hypersensitivity in asthma remain poorly elucidated. Current asthma patient-related outcome instruments such as the six-point Juniper Asthma Control Score (ACQ-6) and Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ) were not primarily designed to capture cough and its related morbidity in asthma. The Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ) is a patient-related outcome instrument designed to capture the health-related quality of life associated with cough. To date the LCQ has not been evaluated in a severe asthma population.
METHODS: We evaluated 262 extensively characterised adult patients with severe asthma attending the Leicester Severe Asthma Service. All patients had a clinician diagnosis of asthma and objective physiological evidence and met the ATS/ERS criterion for servere asthma. In all patients we evaluated a) the LCQ distribution and b) the relationships between the LCQ and ACQ-6, AQLQ, airway inflammation in sputum.
RESULTS: The LCQ demonstrated the following properties; mean: 15.0, standard deviation: 4.54, median: 15.48, and range: 11.6-19.2. We found a moderate correlation between LCQ and ACQ-6 (r = - 0.605, p < 0.0001) and a LCQ and AQLQ (r = 0.710, p < 0.0001). There was no relationship between LCQ and log10 sputum percentage eosinophils (%).
CONCLUSION: A proportion of patients with severe asthma have a significant degree of cough-related morbidity that appears independent of eosinophilic airway inflammation and is not captured fully by existing asthma patient-reported outcome instruments. Our preliminary findings suggest that further research is now required to validate the LCQ and its responsiveness in severe asthma populations to capture cough-related morbidity and response to specific interventions.