What is it about?

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are long-term conditions that affect the lungs. People with asthma, people with COPD, and people with features of both conditions can experience respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and chest tightness. Doctors often assess a patient’s respiratory symptoms by asking them to complete a questionnaire or symptom diary. Most questionnaires and symptom diaries are designed for people with a diagnosis of either asthma or COPD. This means that there are fewer options for people who have both asthma and COPD, or for people who do not yet have a specific diagnosis. The questionnaires that can be used for these patients also tend to be longer and more time-consuming than those available for people with either asthma or COPD. In this study, we tested a new, short questionnaire about general respiratory symptoms, called the Respiratory Symptoms Questionnaire (RSQ). This includes four questions that ask people about their experiences with respiratory symptoms in the past four weeks. The first question asks how often people have experienced respiratory symptoms during the day. The other questions ask about the impact of the respiratory symptoms – how often they have used a quick relief inhaler, how limited their activities have been and how often they have woken up at night. We found that the RSQ is an effective way to assess respiratory symptoms in people with asthma, both asthma and COPD, or COPD.

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Why is it important?

In future, doctors could monitor a patient’s general respiratory symptoms by asking them to complete the RSQ. This brief questionnaire is simple and quick to complete. The results might give doctors a better picture of the patient’s symptoms and whether the patient’s current treatment plan is suitable. The RSQ could also help with research about choosing treatments that help to control general respiratory symptoms.

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This page is a summary of: Validation of a diagnosis-agnostic symptom questionnaire for asthma and/or COPD, ERJ Open Research, November 2020, European Respiratory Society (ERS), DOI: 10.1183/23120541.00828-2020.
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