Analysis of clinical methods used to evaluate dyspnea in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998 Oct;158(4):1185-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.158.4.9802091.


When dyspnea must be assessed clinically, there are three methods of assessment: the measurement of dyspnea with activities of daily living using clinical dyspnea ratings such as the modified Medical Research Council (MRC), the Baseline Dyspnea Index (BDI), and the Oxygen Cost Diagram (OCD); the measurement of dyspnea during exercise using the Borg scale; to assess the influence of dyspnea on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) using disease-specific questionnaires such as the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (CRQ). The purpose of the present cross-sectional study was to clarify relationships between dyspnea ratings and HRQoL questionnaires by applying factor analysis. One hundred sixty-one patients with mild to severe COPD completed pulmonary function tests, progressive cycle ergometer testing for exercise capacity, assessment of dyspnea, HRQoL, anxiety, and depression. Factor analysis demonstrated that the MRC, BDI, OCD, and Activity of the SGRQ, and Dyspnea of the CRQ, were grouped into the same factor, and the frequency distribution histograms of these five measures showed virtually the same distribution. The Borg scale at the end of maximum exercise was found to be a different factor. The MRC, BDI, OCD, and Activity in the SGRQ, and Dyspnea in the CRQ demonstrated the same pattern of correlation with physiologic data, and they had significant relationships with FEV1 (correlation coefficients [Rs] = 0.31 to 0. 48) and maximal oxygen uptake (Rs = 0.46 to 0.60). Disease-specific HRQoL questionnaires, the SGRQ and the CRQ, which contain a specific dimension for evaluating dyspnea, may be substituted for clinical dyspnea ratings in a cross-sectional assessment. Dyspnea rating at the end of exercise may provide further information regarding dyspnea.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Dyspnea / diagnosis*
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Dyspnea / psychology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Residual Volume / physiology
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Total Lung Capacity / physiology