Little is known about the comparative validity, reliability, or responsiveness of instruments for assessing cough frequency or impact, where the term impact encompasses both cough severity and the impact of cough on health-related quality of life.
We conducted a systematic review to evaluate instruments that assess cough frequency or impact in adults, adolescents, and children with acute or chronic cough.
Seventy-eight studies were included, of which eight were randomized controlled trials and 70 were observational studies. In all age groups, audio and video electronic recording devices had good reliability compared with other methods of assessing cough frequency but had variable correlation with other cough assessments, such as visual analog scale scores, quality-of-life questionnaires, cough diaries, and tussigenic challenges. Among adult and adolescent patients, the Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ) and the Cough-Specific Quality-of-Life Questionnaire (CQLQ) were valid and reliable, showing high intraclass and test-retest correlations. Among children, the Parent Cough-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire and Pediatric Cough Questionnaire were valid and reliable.
Electronic recording devices can be valid assessments of cough frequency. The LCQ and CQLQ for adults and the Parent Cough-Specific Quality of Life questionnaire for children are valid instruments for assessing cough impact. There is limited but insufficient evidence to determine the reliability or concurrent validity of the different types of cough diaries or visual analog scale scores. There are also limited data to support the responsiveness of recording devices. There is good responsiveness data for the LCQ and CQLQ, but more evidence is needed.