The language of breathing among individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Cathleen Michaels, Paula M. Meek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective To examine the consistency of language used by adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to describe and evaluate their everyday breathing. Methods A longitudinal descriptive design was used. Eleven subjects with stable COPD and moderate to severe lung impairment were enrolled at the study site and completed daily and weekly measures at home. Participants recorded descriptions of breathing in logs and rated breathing distress and effort once a day on visual analogue scales for 28 days. Participants also selected endorsed descriptors at baseline and once per week thereafter. Results Consistency was low to moderate between baseline and weekly endorsed descriptors, weekly endorsed and logged descriptors, and logged descriptors and VAS scores for breathing distress and effort. Conclusions This study provides the first naturalistic record of everyday breathing intensity logged by individuals with moderate to severe COPD. The variability in expression of breathing intensity was associated with low to moderate consistency. Because language drives care seeking, further research is essential to understand language selection for describing symptoms of breathing intensity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-400
Number of pages11
JournalHeart and Lung: Journal of Acute and Critical Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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