Impact of cough and common cold on productivity, absenteeism, and daily life in the United States: ACHOO Survey

Peter V. Dicpinigaitis, Ron Eccles, Michael S. Blaiss, Mark A. Wingertzahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background:Although the common cold is among the most frequent ailments encountered in clinical practice, little is known about its impact on productivity, absenteeism, and daily life.Objective:The United States Attitudes of Consumers Toward Health, Cough, and Cold (ACHOO) survey was developed to inform healthcare providers on patients experience of cough/cold. This analysis focuses on the impact of cough/cold on daily activity, productivity, and absenteeism; other results are reported elsewhere.Design:ACHOO was a 36-question online survey.Participants:US adult Internet/mobile device users (N = 3333) were recruited in October 2012. Response quotas modeled on 2010 US Census data ensured a demographically representative sample; 75% of completed surveys were randomized as the primary analysis pool.Main measures:Demographics and impact of cough/cold were reported using means, frequencies, and percentages. Weighted least squares regression or weighted paired t-test were used to identify factors associated with greater impact.Key results:The analysis pool (N = 2505) included 1342 (53.6%) women and 1163 (46.4%) men (mean ages, 46.7 and 45.9 years). A majority (84.7%) had ≥1 cold in the past year. Fifty-two percent said cough/cold impacted daily life a fair amount to a lot. Productivity decreased by a mean 26.4%, and 44.5% of respondents reported work/school absenteeism (usually 1-2 days) during a cold. Overall, 93% of survey participants reported sleep difficulty (slight to extreme) during a cough/cold. Among all respondents, 57% reported cough or nasal congestion as the symptoms making sleep difficult. Higher frequency of colds, more cold symptoms, difficulty sleeping, and worse overall health status correlated with greater impact on productivity, absenteeism, and daily life.Limitations:Study limitations include the potential for recall bias given the retrospective nature of the self-reports. Furthermore, no attempt was made to distinguish treatment effects, if any, from those of the underlying cough/cold.Conclusions:To our knowledge, this is the first large national survey to quantify adverse effects of cough/cold on daily activity, productivity, and absenteeism. Cold- and patient-related characteristics influence the degree of impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1519-1525
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent medical research and opinion
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015


  • Absenteeism
  • Activities of daily living
  • Common cold
  • Cough
  • Productivity
  • Quality of life
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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