OBJECTIVE: To identify the factors that patients consider most concerning about their cough. PATIENTS AND METHODS: All consecutive patients who presented with a complaint of chronic cough between November 1, 2000, and February 28, 2001, were prospectively surveyed for cough-related complaints using an 18-item symptom-complaint questionnaire. We analyzed frequencies of responses and response patterns to specific items on the questionnaire. We also examined whether the responses to individual items related to the patient's age, sex, and duration of cough. RESULTS: Of the 146 consecutive patients referred for evaluation of chronic cough, 136 were eligible for inclusion in the study. These patients cited feelings of frustration, irritability, or anger (43%), frequent physician visits and testing (41%), and sleep disturbances (38%) as the most prevalent major problems. The responses to individual items on the questionnaire were not related to patients' age, sex, and cough duration. Anxiety about underlying serious illness continued to be a concern for most patients. CONCLUSIONS: Frustration, anger, or anxiety was the most frequent major problem cited by patients. Frequent physician visits and testing was the unexpected second most frequent major problem. These findings are important because most chronic cough guidelines are based on clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness considerations rather than on patient satisfaction. Future studies regarding chronic cough evaluation should take into account patient satisfaction and perceived burden of disease as outcome variables.
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