Verbal numerical scales are as reliable and sensitive as visual analog scales for rating dyspnea in young and older subjects
MetadataShow full item record
This study compared the use of a simple verbal 0-10 numerical rating scale (verbal NRS) and a visual analog scale (VAS) for the rating of dyspnea during exercise in a group of young and older subjects. Twelve younger (32 ᠹ yr) and 12 older (71 ᠷ yr) subjects used either the verbal NRS or the VAS in a randomised fashion to rate dyspnea during 60 s of uphill treadmill walking (range 5.6-8.8 km h-1) performed at either a low (17% grade) or high workload (26% grade) and then during recovery. Rating scales were evaluated twice on separate days (day 1 and day 2) at each workload. While the verbal NRS scores proved to be reliable throughout exercise and recovery, VAS scores were significantly (p < 0.05) lower on day 2 during the low workload test (younger group) and the high workload test (older group). Verbal NRS ratings were consistently greater than VAS ratings at both workloads (p < 0.001) for both young and older groups. The intra-class correlation coefficients for rating peak dyspnea using either the VAS or verbal NRS were consistently lower for the older subjects (range: r = 0.54-0.67) than the younger subjects (range: r = 0.70-0.86). Overall, subjects preferred the verbal NRS to the VAS. These results suggest that the verbal NRS compares favourably with the VAS for rating dyspnea during exercise without mask or mouthpiece. However, when rating peak dyspnea both scales appear less reliable when used by the older compared to young subjects.
Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology