Study objectives: Dyspnea is most commonly assessed by questioning patients about their subjective perception of shortness of breath during physical exertion. Although speech production is altered by pulmonary disease, it has not been included in current dyspnea assessment tools. A questionnaire was developed to address reports of dyspnea during (1) physical activity, (2) speech activity, and (3) simultaneous speech and physical activity.
Design: An equal number of self- and experimenter-administered 30-item questionnaires was given to 203 patients with restrictive and obstructive pulmonary diseases. Their responses were analyzed statistically.
Results: The questionnaire had high internal consistency for individual items within each of the three sections. The sections were highly correlated but provided separate and distinct information. Factors extracted from each section were related to severity of dyspnea. Pairwise t tests demonstrated highly significant differences in subject responses to the three sections. The least dyspnea was experienced during speech activities, more during physical activities, and the most when speech and physical activities were combined.
Conclusions: The questionnaire proved to be a quickly administered tool for providing information about the effect of dyspnea on activities of daily living. Because of the emphasis on dyspnea during speech production, it may be particularly useful for assessing patients who rely extensively on speaking ability for their livelihood.