The language of breathing among individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Heart Lung. 2004 Nov-Dec;33(6):390-400. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2004.06.002.


Objective: To examine the consistency of language used by adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to describe and evaluate their everyday breathing.

Methods: A longitudinal descriptive design was used. Eleven subjects with stable COPD and moderate to severe lung impairment were enrolled at the study site and completed daily and weekly measures at home. Participants recorded descriptions of breathing in logs and rated breathing distress and effort once a day on visual analogue scales for 28 days. Participants also selected endorsed descriptors at baseline and once per week thereafter.

Results: Consistency was low to moderate between baseline and weekly endorsed descriptors, weekly endorsed and logged descriptors, and logged descriptors and VAS scores for breathing distress and effort.

Conclusions: This study provides the first naturalistic record of everyday breathing intensity logged by individuals with moderate to severe COPD. The variability in expression of breathing intensity was associated with low to moderate consistency. Because language drives care seeking, further research is essential to understand language selection for describing symptoms of breathing intensity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dyspnea / classification*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiration*
  • Severity of Illness Index