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INTRODUCTION: Acute cough has a significant impact on physical and psychosocial health and is associated with an impaired quality of life (QOL). The Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ) is a validated cough-related health status questionnaire designed for patients with chronic cough. The purpose of this study was to validate the LCQ for the assessment of health related QOL in patients with acute cough and determine the clinical minimal important difference (MID). METHODS: 10 subjects with cough due to acute upper respiratory tract infection underwent focused interviews to investigate the face validity of the LCQ. The LCQ was also evaluated by a multidisciplinary team. 30 subjects completed the revised LCQ-acute and a cough visual analogue score (VAS: 0-100 mm) within one week of onset of cough and again <2 weeks later and at resolution of cough. The concurrent validity, internal reliability, repeatability and responsiveness of the LCQ-acute were also assessed. Patients also completed a Global Rating of Change Questionnaire that assessed the change in cough severity between visits. The MID was calculated as the change in LCQ-acute score for patients responding to GRCQ category representing the smallest change in health status that patients found worthwhile. RESULTS: Health status was severely impaired at baseline affecting all domains; median (interquartile range) total LCQ-acute score 13.0 (3.4). All subjects found the LCQ-acute questionnaire acceptable for assessing their cough. Internal reliability of the LCQ-acute was good for all domains and total score, Cronbach's α coefficients >0.9. There was a significant correlation between LCQ-acute and VAS (ρ = -0.48, p = 0.007). The LCQ-acute and its domains were highly responsive to change; effect sizes 1.7-2.3. The MID for total LCQ and VAS were 2.5 and 13 mm respectively. CONCLUSION: The LCQ-acute is a brief, simple and valid instrument to assess cough specific health related QOL in patients with acute cough. It is a highly responsive tool suggesting that it will be particularly useful to assess the effect of antitussive therapy.

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