This cross-sectional descriptive study investigated breathlessness (dyspnea) in stable patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). The purpose of this study was (a) to characterize the most common terms COPD and CHF patients use to describe their breathing, (b) to identify the frequency of dyspnea in patients with COPD and CHF, and (c) to determine the intensity of dyspnea in these populations.

A purposive sample of 60 patients, 30 with moderate to severe COPD and 30 patients with moderate to severe CHF, met the inclusion criteria and were enrolled in this study. The participants provided subjective information about their breathing discomfort by answering the Demographic Questionnaire and (b) Interview questionnaire developed by the researcher, (c) Endorsing terms from a list of descriptors, and (d) General dyspnea questionnaire from the Pulmonary Function Status and Dyspnea Questionnaire. Data was collected in an outpatient Pulmonary and CHF clinic of a Medical Center.

The results indicated that patients with COPD and CHF chose different the terms to describe their breathing discomfort. There was no significant difference between the incidence (χ2 = 2.080, p = .195) and frequency (ṯ = 0.270, ք = .788) patients with COPD and CHF experience dyspnea. Participants with COPD reported significantly more dyspnea intensity ()than CHF in three different situations (COPD:CHF): (a) "past year" (ṯ = 2.426, ք = .018), (b) "today" (ṯ = 2.459, ք = .017), (c) most day-to-day activities COPD (ṯ = 2.499, ք = .015 ).

The findings support the notion of previous studies regarding the breathlessness descriptors. Individuals with certain health conditions use (a) terms that are unique to describe their breathing experience, (b) choose more than one term (c) and use similar terms to describe their breathing experience. This study identified affective descriptors were among breathlessness descriptors in both groups. The frequency and intensity of dyspnea among COPD and CHF, had not been reported in previous studies, were identified.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Lois J. Van Cleve

Second Advisor

Elizabeth A. Bossert

Third Advisor

Margareth Burns

Fourth Advisor

Suzanne Lareau

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Lung Diseases; Obstructive -- symptoms; Dyspnea; Respiration; Heart Failure; Congestive -- Symptoms.



Page Count

x; 104

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives