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The “vicious circle” of chronic cough: The patient experience – qualitative synthesis

Brindle, Kayleigh; Morice, Alyn; Carter, Natalie; Sykes, Dominic; Zhang, Mengru; Hilton, Andrea


Kayleigh Brindle

Natalie Carter

Dominic Sykes

Mengru Zhang

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Dr Andrea Hilton
Reader and Programme director, Non-Medical Prescribing


Aim The aim of this study was to systematically search and synthesise findings from peer-reviewed qualitative studies describing the experiences of those living with chronic cough. Methods A systematic search was conducted to identify all studies that used qualitative methodology to report on the experiences of adults living with chronic cough. A thematic synthesis of the first-hand narratives was undertaken. Key themes in relation to personal perspectives and experiences of living with chronic cough were identified and grouped into analytical themes. Results Six studies met the inclusion criteria. The thematic synthesis generated three analytical themes: 1) “It’s just a cough”; 2) “Constant cough and constant worry”; and 3) “No light at the end of the tunnel”, highlighting the biopsychosocial nature of chronic cough. The synthesis highlights chronic cough as a heterogeneous experience that may appear idiosyncratic, completely consuming the lives of those living with it. Conclusion This is to our knowledge the first qualitative synthesis reporting on the perceptions and experiences of adults living with chronic cough. Our review draws attention to the paucity of literature that utilises qualitative methodology to explore the experience of living with chronic cough. We highlight the missing voice of people living with chronic cough in the contemporary literature. There is now a requirement for research exploring the narratives of those living with chronic cough, to gain an understanding of the condition beyond simple quantification.


Brindle, K., Morice, A., Carter, N., Sykes, D., Zhang, M., & Hilton, A. (2023). The “vicious circle” of chronic cough: The patient experience – qualitative synthesis. ERJ Open Research, 9(3), Article 00094-2023.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2023
Online Publication Date May 22, 2023
Publication Date May 1, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 17, 2023
Journal ERJ Open Research
Electronic ISSN 2312-0541
Publisher European Respiratory Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 3
Article Number 00094-2023
Public URL


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