Prevalence of chronic cough, its risk factors and population attributable risk in the burden of obstructive lung disease (BOLD) study: A multinational cross-sectional study

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: Chronic cough is a common respiratory symptom with an impact on daily activities and quality of life. Global prevalence data are scarce and derive mainly from European and Asian countries and studies with outcomes other than chronic cough. In this study, we aimed to estimate the prevalence of chronic cough across a large number of study sites as well as to identify its main risk factors using a standardised protocol and definition.
Methods: We analysed cross-sectional data from 33,983 adults (≥40 years), recruited between Jan 2, 2003 and Dec 26, 2016, in 41 sites (34 countries) from the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. We estimated the prevalence of chronic cough for each site accounting for sampling design. To identify risk factors, we conducted multivariable logistic regression analysis within each site and then pooled estimates using random-effects meta-analysis. We also calculated the population attributable risk (PAR) associated with each of the identifed risk factors.
Findings: The prevalence of chronic cough varied from 3% in India (rural Pune) to 24% in the United States of America (Lexington,KY). Chronic cough was more common among females, both current and passive smokers, those working in a dusty job, those with a history of tuberculosis, those who were obese, those with a low level of education and those with hypertension or airflow limitation. The most influential risk factors were current smoking and working in a dusty job.
Interpretation: Our findings suggested that the prevalence of chronic cough varies widely across sites in different world regions. Cigarette smoking and exposure to dust in the workplace are its major risk factors.


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