Consumer attitudes on cough and cold: US (ACHOO) survey results
The Attitudes of Consumers Toward Health, Cough, and Cold (ACHOO) survey was developed to better inform health care providers on the natural history and impact of common cold and cough, and related consumer experience and behaviors.
Research design and methods:
Randomly selected US Internet/mobile device users were invited to participate in an online survey (N = 3333) in October 2012. Response quotas modeled upon 2010 US Census data ensured a demographically representative sample. To reduce potential bias from the quota design, 75% of the completed surveys were randomly selected as the primary analysis pool.
Main outcome measures:
Survey questions assessed participant demographics, frequency and duration of cough/cold symptoms, impact of symptoms on daily life, treatment preferences, and knowledge about cough/cold pathophysiology.
In the past year, 84.6% of respondents had experienced at least one cold. Colds typically started with sore/scratchy throat (39.2%), nasal congestion (9.8%), and runny nose (9.3%) and lasted 3–7 days. Cough, the most common cold symptom (73.1%), had a delayed onset (typically 1–5 days after cold onset) and a long duration (>6 days in 35.2%). Nasal congestion and cough were the most bothersome symptoms. Many respondents waited until symptoms were ‘bad enough’ (42.6%) or multiple symptoms were present (20.2%) before using nonprescription medications. Drivers of choice included effectiveness in relieving symptoms, safety, and past experience. Respondents rarely consulted clinicians regarding treatment, and more than three-quarters had never received instructions from a clinician on how to choose a nonprescription cough/cold medication. Misperceptions regarding etiology and treatment of the common cold were prevalent. The main limitation is potential recall bias, since respondents had to recall cough/cold episodes over the prior year.
The ACHOO survey confirms that cold is a common, bothersome experience and that there are gaps in consumers’ knowledge of pathophysiology and appropriate management of cough/cold.