Breathlessness perception assessed by visual analogue scale and lung function in children with asthma: A real-life study

Maria A. Tosca, Michela Silvestri, Roberta Olcese, Angela Pistorio, Giovanni A. Rossi, Giorgio Ciprandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In children with asthma, discrepancies between objective indicators of airway obstruction and symptom perception are often observed. Although visual analogue scale (VAS) has been proposed as a useful tool for assessing accurate symptom perception, previous studies conducted in children with asthma included only small cohorts. A study was therefore designed to investigate the usefulness of VAS in establishing a reliable relationship between breathlessness perception and lung function in a large cohort of children with clinical diagnosis of asthma. Methods: A total of 703 children [470 boys and 233 girls, median age 10.29 (8.33-12.58)yr] with asthma were included in this cross-sectional, real-life study. Perception of breathlessness was assessed by using VAS, and lung volumes and expiratory flows were measured by spirometry. Results: Most children had intermittent or mild persistent asthma (93.3%), and only 46 children had a significant bronchial obstruction defined by FEV1 values 1 (r=0.47) and FEF25-75 (r=0.42) and VAS was detected. A VAS value of 6 was found to be a reliable cutoff for discriminating children with bronchial obstruction (AUC 0.83 at ROC curve; OR 9.4). Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that VAS might be considered a useful tool to assess symptom perception, mainly in children with airflow limitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-542
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Allergy and Immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • Asthma
  • Breathlessness
  • Bronchial obstruction
  • Children
  • Lung function
  • Visual analogue scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology


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