Measurement of dyspnea: word labeled visual analog scale vs. verbal ordinal scale

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2003 Mar 3;134(2):77-83. doi: 10.1016/s1569-9048(02)00211-2.


We previously used a verbal ordinal rating scale to measure dyspnea. That scale was easy for subjects to use and the words provided consistency in ratings. We have recently developed a word labeled visual analog scale (LVAS) with labels placed by the subjects, retaining the advantages of a verbal scale while offering a continuous scale that generates parametric data. In a retrospective meta-analysis of data from 43 subjects, individuals differed little in their placement of words on the 100 mm LVAS (mean+/-S.D. for slight=20+/-2.5 mm, moderate=50+/-5 mm and severe=80+/-6 mm) and ratings were distributed uniformly along the scale. A significant stimulus-response correlation was obtained for both the LVAS (r(2)=0.98) and for the verbal ordinal scale (Spearman r=0.94). The resolution of the two scales differed only slightly. With meaningful verbal anchors, well-defined end-points, and clear instructions about the specific sensation to be rated, both scales provide valid measures of dyspnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dyspnea / classification*
  • Dyspnea / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / psychology
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiration
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensation*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Ventilators, Mechanical
  • Work of Breathing*