Purpose: Acute respiratory infections (ARIs), and associated symptoms such as cough, are frequently experienced among children and impose a burden on families (e.g., use of medical resources and time off work/school). However, there are little data on changes in, and predictors of, quality of life (QoL) over the duration of an ARI with cough (ARIwC) episode. We therefore aimed to determine cough-specific QoL and identify its influencing factors among children with ARIwC, at the time of presentation to a pediatric emergency department (ED), and over the following 4 weeks.
Methods: Data from 283 children aged < 15 years were included in our analyses. We used the validated parent-proxy children’s acute cough-specific QoL questionnaire (PAC-QoL) at each time-point. Linear regression and mixed effect modeling were used to identify factors influencing QoL at baseline and over the follow-up period.
Results: Median PAC-QoL at baseline was 2.7 (IQR 2.1–3.6) and significantly improved by Day-7 (4.9, IQR 3.8–6.1) and Day-14 (6.59, IQR 5.1–7.0), both p < 0.001. The improvements in median PAC-QoL between Days-14, -21, and -28 were not significant. Regression modeling identified that day-cough severity, night-cough severity, and financial concerns had the highest impact on both baseline, and follow-up, PAC-QoL scores. There were five additional independent significant factors at baseline and six at follow-up.
Conclusions: Quality of life is considerably impaired at presentation to ED, but improves significantly by Days-7 and -14. As cough severity and financial concerns had the highest impact on QoL, effectively managing cough to reduce the clinical and financial burden on children and families is important.