Respiratory Health

In 1966, 1971, 1977, 1982, 1989, 1999, 2006-10, and 2014-16, study members were asked the MRC questionnaire on respiratory symptoms (MRCQ).

The MRCQ consists of questions on coughing, phlegm, breathlessness, wheezing and chest illnesses.1)

Details of the questions and variable names resulting from the MRCQ can be seen below.

1966 1971 1977 1982 1989 1999 2006-10 2014
Do you usually cough first thing in the morning in winter? WIC66 WIC71 WIC77 WIC82 WIC89 WIC WIC09 WIC14x
Do you usually cough during the day or night in winter? WID66 WID71 WID77 WID82 WID89 WID WID09 WID14x
Do you cough like this on most days for as much as 3 months each year? WIM66 WIM71 WIM77 WIM82 WIM89 WIM WIM09 WIM14x
Do you usually bring up phlegm first thing in th morning in the winter? PHL66 PHL71 PHL82 PHL89 PHL PHL09 PHL14x
Do you usually bring up phlegm during the day or night in winter? PHLD66 PHLD71 PHLD82 PHLD89 PHLD PHLD09 PHLD14x
Do you bring up phlegm on most days for as much as 3 months each year? PHLM66 PHLM71 PHLM82 PHLM89 PHLM PHLM09 PHLM14x
In the past 3 years, have you had a period of cough and phlegm lasting for 3 weeks or more? COPH66 COPH71 COPH82 COPH89 COPH COPH09 COPH14x
Does your chest ever sound wheezy or whistling? WZY66 WZY71 WZY82 WZY89 WZY WZY09 WZY14x
Do you get this most days (or nights)? WZYD66 WZYD71 WZYD82 WZYD89 WZYD WZYD09 WZYD14x
During the past 3 years, have you had any chest illnesses eg bronchitis, pneumonia, which has kept you off work or indoors for a week or more? BRONC66 BRONC71 BRONC77 BRONC82 BRONC89 BRONC BRONC09 BRONC14x
How many illnesses like this have you had in the last 3 years? NUM66 NUM71 NUM82 NUM89 NUM BRONN09 BRONN14x
Did you consult a doctor about this during the last 3 years? BROND BROND09 BROND14x


Lung function was first measured in 1982 using a Mini Wright Peak Flow meter. This was used to measure the peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) to the nearest 10 litres/min. The PEFR was also measured at 1989 and 1999 using the Micro Medical spirometer.

At ages 43 (1989), 53 (1999) and 60-64 (2006-10) forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were measured using the Micro Medical spirometer. At age 68-70 (2014-16) forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) was measured using Easy on-PC sensor (spirometer). Three measures were used at 43, 60-64 and 68-70 years and two measures at 53 years. It was also recorded whether the technique for each blow was satisfactory.

Recommended measures of FEV1 and FVC were derived using the American Thoracic Society (ATS) criteria, firstly removing those values where the technique was judged not to be satisfactory then taking the maximum of the two qualifying measures at 53 years and the three qualifying measures at other ages. Impossible values were removed. 


Data on pollution were also collected as part of the 60-64 (2006-10) sweep.


Obtaining the standard adult respiratory health variables

  • You can obtain a list of the standard topic variables to use in an NSHD data sharing request by selecting the link at the end of this page.
  • The XML version of the link can be sent to the LHA as part of a data sharing request.
  • Simply use your browser's Save As facility to save the list of variables to a file on your computer.
  • You can then email the XML version to us in support of your application, or when you fill in the data access application form and it asks which variables you need, mention the 'adult respiratory health standard basket' along with any others.


HTML version of the standard variables to view

Download the XML for the adult respiratory health standard basket