Impact of mental health and personality traits on the incidence of chronic cough in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

Imran Satia, Alexandra J Mayhew, Nazmul Sohel, Om Kurmi, Kieran J Killian, Paul M O'Byrne, Parminder Raina

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    Background Chronic cough is a common troublesome condition, but risk factors for developing chronic cough are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to understand the relationship between mental health disorders, personality traits and chronic cough. Methods The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is a prospective, nationally generalisable, random sample of adults aged 45–85 years at baseline recruited between 2011 and 2015, and followed-up 3 years later. Chronic cough was defined as a daily cough over the last 12 months. Incident chronic cough was defined as those participants who reported new-onset chronic cough between baseline and follow-up 1. Current depressive symptoms and psychological distress were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Study Short Depression Scale (CESD-10) and Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K-10), respectively. The “Big Five” personality traits were assessed using the Ten-Item Personality Inventory. Relative risks are reported using a multivariate mutually adjusted model. Results At follow-up 1, 2506 participants (11.1%) reported new-onset chronic cough during the ∼3-year interval. Depressive symptoms (CESD-10 ⩾10: relative risk 1.22 (95% CI 1.03–1.44)) and psychological distress (K-10 ⩾22: relative risk 1.20 (95% CI 1.07–1.36)) at baseline were both independent predictors of a higher risk of incident chronic cough. Prevalent and incident chronic cough were also independently associated with an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms and psychological distress. Personality traits did not influence the development of chronic cough but did increase the risk of depressive symptoms and psychological distress. Conclusions This study shows that there is a bidirectional relationship between chronic cough, and depressive symptoms and psychological distress, and personality traits do not independently influence the development of chronic cough.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    JournalERJ Open Research
    Issue number2
    Early online date30 May 2022
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright ©The authors 2022
    This version is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Licence 4.0. For commercial reproduction rights and permissions contact


    This research was made possible using the data/biospecimens collected by the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Funding for the CLSA is provided by the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research under grant reference LSA 94473 and the Canada Foundation for Innovation as well as the following provinces: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. This research has been conducted using the CLSA dataset, Baseline and Follow-up 1 Comprehensive Dataset, under application number 1909024. The CLSA is led by Parminder Raina (McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada), Christina Wolfson (McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada) and Susan Kirkland (Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada). The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not reflect the views of the CLSA. The final manuscript was reviewed and approved by the Publication Review Committee of the CLSA.


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