High reliability in respiratory rate assessment in children with respiratory symptomatology in a rural area in Mozambique

J Trop Pediatr. 2014 Apr;60(2):93-8. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmt081. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Early recognition of severe medical conditions is often based on clinical scores and vital sign measurements such as the respiratory rate (RR) count. We designed this study to determine the reliability of RR assessment counted three times during a full minute by independent observers in children in a developing country setting. A total of 55 participants were enrolled in the study. Participant ages ranged from 10 days to 7 years (median 22 months). Agreement for RR count was high (intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.95; 95% confidence interval: 0.93-0.97). Agreement for presence of tachypnea was also high (Kappa coefficient of 0.83, p < 0.001). However, a single reading would have misclassified 5-11% of the participants as non-tachypneic. Repeated RR counts offer reliable results if done during a full minute. Patients not fulfilling tachypnea criterion but with a high RR count should have the measurement repeated.

Keywords: child; pneumonia; reliability of results; respiratory rate; tachypnea.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mozambique
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Rate*
  • Rural Population
  • Tachypnea / diagnosis*
  • Time Factors