Quantitative measurement properties and score interpretation of the Cough Severity Diary in patients with chronic cough

Allison Martin Nguyen, Elizabeth Bacci, Peter Dicpinigaitis, Margaret Vernon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Aims: The Cough Severity Diary (CSD) was developed in accordance with the FDA guidance for patient-reported outcome measures and is focused on capturing the patient’s perception of cough in terms of frequency, intensity, and disruption due to their cough. The measure includes a series of seven items asking patients to rate the frequency (three items), intensity (two items), and disruptiveness (two items) of their cough. The instrument was designed to be completed daily before bedtime, has a recall period of ‘today,’ and responses to items are entered on an 11-point numeric rating scale ranging from 0 to 10 with anchors on each end. The objective of this analysis was to confirm the domain structure of the CSD and assess its reliability, validity, and responsiveness in adult patients with refractory or unexplained chronic cough (RCC/UCC). Criteria for defining meaningful changes in mean weekly CSD total and domain scores in the context of a clinical trial were also developed. Methods: Pooled data from a phase II randomized controlled trial of an investigational treatment for RCC/UCC were analyzed. Participants were non-smokers, had RCC/UCC for ⩾1 year, and a baseline cough severity visual analogue scale (VAS) ⩾40 mm. CSD scores (baseline, week 4), were analyzed; the Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ), cough severity VAS, Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC), and objective cough frequency counts were used for validation. CSD domain structure (Total, Frequency, Intensity, Disruption) was assessed for scoring. Results: A total of 253 participants were included (mean age 60.2; 76% female). Global fit of the three-factor CSD was acceptable. For the CSD total score, internal consistency (α = 0.89) and test–retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.68) were high. CSD total scores were correlated with the LCQ total (r = –0.62) and cough severity VAS (r = 0.84). Participants with a PGIC score of 1 or 2 (most improved groups) had the greatest mean score improvement on the CSD Total (Day 0 to Day 28), supporting responsiveness (similar findings for subscales). A change threshold of ⩾1.3-point reduction on the total and subscale scores is appropriate to define clinically meaningful improvement. Conclusion: The CSD is a reliable, valid, and responsive measure of cough symptom severity in patients with refractory or unexplained chronic cough and fit-for-purpose for assessing changes in cough severity in clinical trials. The reviews of this paper are available via the supplemental material section.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease
StatePublished - 2020


  • Leicester Cough Questionnaire
  • chronic cough
  • clinically meaningful change
  • patient reported outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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