International assessment of the internal consistency of respiratory symptoms. European Community Respiratory Health Study (ECRHS)

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Sep;162(3 Pt 1):930-5. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.162.3.9911062.


We aimed to assess cross-cultural validity of the reporting of respiratory symptoms in the European Community Respiratory Health Study (ECRHS). A random sample of subjects from the general population (aged 20-44 yr), from 35 centers in 15 countries, answered a questionnaire and underwent allergy tests and airway challenge with methacholine. The overall response rate to the questionnaire was 60% (n = 16,635). Exploratory factor analysis was used to identify how symptoms were grouped (i.e., to specify factor structure), using data from the United Kingdom. Subsequently, a confirmatory factor analysis of the prespecified structure for the United Kingdom was assessed for each country in consecutive nested models, increasing at each step the number of parameters forced to be equal to the United Kingdom, and assessing the goodness of fit. Variables were clustered in the same four groups (factors) in all countries. The four factors, mutually adjusted, were associated with either bronchial responsiveness, atopy, or smoking, which provides coherence for the separation of the four factors. In the confirmatory factor analysis, when the load of each of the symptoms in the corresponding factor was prespecified, all countries except Spain showed an adequate fit; in Spain there were differences in answers concerning asthma treatment. We conclude that the ECRHS multilingual translated respiratory symptoms questionnaire shows high internal consistency, suggesting that international comparisons are not affected by errors due to cross-cultural variations in the reporting of symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Sounds / diagnosis
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Methacholine Chloride