Assessment of dyspnoea

Giorgio Scano, Giulia Innocenti-Bruni, Loredana Stendardi, Francesco Gigliotti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Dyspnoea is characterised by a subjective experience of breathing discomfort that consists of qualitatively distinct sensations that vary in intensity. This definition underlines the importance of the different qualities covered by the term dyspnoea, the involvement of integration of multiple sources of neural information about breathing and the physiological consequences. Instruments or subsections of instruments pertaining to dyspnoea should be classified as pertaining to domains of sensory-perceptual experience, affective distress or symptom/disease impact or burden. Sensory-perceptual measures include ratings of intensity and sensory quality. Ratings of intensity involve one or more separate single-item scales such as the visual analogue scale (VAS) and Borg ratings. Sensory quality involves cluster descriptors of the sensation (the language of dyspnoea). Measurement of affective distress may use single- or multiple-item scales. Affective distress deals with a perception of immediate unpleasantness. Impact measures (e.g. how breathing affects behaviour and beliefs) involve a multiple-item scale across multiple dimensions (functional performance or disability, quality of life, health status and psychological function). These modifications of traditional instruments have greatly improved the measurement of dyspnoea in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD and asthma), restrictive lung disease and neuromuscular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMechanics of Breathing: New Insights from New Technologies: Second Edition
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Italia s.r.l.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9788847056473, 8847056462, 9788847056466
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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