Breathlessness perception assessed by visual analogue scale and lung function in children with asthma: A real-life study

Authors


Giorgio Ciprandi, IRCCS – Azienda Ospedaliera, Universitaria San Martino, Viale Benedetto XV 6, 16132 Genoa, Italy.
Tel.: +39 10 35338120
Fax: +39 10 3538664
E-mail: gio.cip@libero.it

Abstract

To cite this article: Tosca MA, Silvestri M, Olcese R, Pistorio A, Rossi GA, Ciprandi G. Breathlessness perception assessed by visual analogue scale and lung function in children with asthma: A real-life study. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2012: 23: 537–542.

Abstract

Background:  In children with asthma, discrepancies between objective indicators of airway obstruction and symptom perception are often observed. Although visual analogue scale (VAS) has been proposed as a useful tool for assessing accurate symptom perception, previous studies conducted in children with asthma included only small cohorts. A study was therefore designed to investigate the usefulness of VAS in establishing a reliable relationship between breathlessness perception and lung function in a large cohort of children with clinical diagnosis of asthma.

Methods:  A total of 703 children [470 boys and 233 girls, median age 10.29 (8.33–12.58) yr] with asthma were included in this cross-sectional, real-life study. Perception of breathlessness was assessed by using VAS, and lung volumes and expiratory flows were measured by spirometry.

Results:  Most children had intermittent or mild persistent asthma (93.3%), and only 46 children had a significant bronchial obstruction defined by FEV1 values <80% of predicted. Globally, VAS was significantly, even though weakly, related to lung function. Analyzing children with bronchial obstruction, a moderate relationship between both FEV1 (r = 0.47) and FEF25–75 (r = 0.42) and VAS was detected. A VAS value of 6 was found to be a reliable cutoff for discriminating children with bronchial obstruction (AUC 0.83 at ROC curve; OR 9.4).

Conclusion:  The present study demonstrates that VAS might be considered a useful tool to assess symptom perception, mainly in children with airflow limitation.

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