Chronic cough, frequent and harmful among the French population

Chronic cough, frequent and harmful among the French population
Chronic cough, frequent and harmful among the French population

Propensity score matching with control subjects

NHWS is an annual international self-administered survey. It covers different aspects of mental and physical health, as well as quality of life via validated questionnaires. The analysis was carried out using French data obtained between December 2019 and March 2020 from adults, according to a distribution representative of French demographics. Chronic cough was defined by the presence of a cough of at least 3 months duration during the last 12 months. Individuals who met this description were compared to propensity score-matched controls (1:3) on age, sex, marital status, income level, and modified Charlson comorbidity index. (COPD excluded).

Among the 15,152 participants in the survey in 2020, 7.4% reported having already suffered from chronic cough during their lifetime and 4.8% reported having or having had a chronic cough in the last 12 months. In both cases, the prevalence of chronic cough was significantly higher among smokers and former smokers than among those who had never smoked (8.9% and 5.9% versus 5.6% and 3.5 % respectively, p<0.001 for both). The lifetime and 12-month figures were higher among 18-29 year olds than among other age groups. Finally, chronic cough over a lifetime was more common among Ile-de-France residents than among participants from other regions.

Differences by gender or age group

Patients who suffered from a chronic cough during the last 12 months (60.3% women, 50.0% aged 50 or over) had on average a sociodemographic profile comparable to subjects without cough, except for the rate smokers or former smokers among them (66.7% vs 54.2%, p<0.001). After matching on the propensity score, they more often had a lower perceived quality of life compared to the others, whether for the physical health or mental health component. Anxiety and depression scores were also higher among this population (respectively 24.4% and 36.4% with moderate to severe forms of anxiety and depression, compared to 12.4% and 20.5% among the matched population, p<0.001 for both). Finally, these patients more often presented with sleep disorders (difficulty falling asleep, waking up at night, sleep apnea, cramps, etc.) and impaired productivity at work. Finally, they had more often consulted a specialist doctor (pulmonologist, allergist, gastroenterologist, psychiatrist/psychologist), a general practitioner or called on an emergency service.

The analysis of the data by age group then showed that the frequency of different specialist consultations was higher among participants belonging to the oldest age groups, apart from those concerning allergists, internists and psychiatrists/ psychologists. There were also gender differences in health-seeking behavior. Additional studies would allow us to better understand the determinants, according to the authors.

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