Clinical course of suspected viral sore throat in young adults: Cohort study
Lindbaek M., Francis N., Cannings-John R., Butler CC., Hjortdahl P.
Objective. To evaluate the natural clinical course of suspected viral sore throat. Design. Prospective cohort study. Setting. Five military camps in Norway. Methods. In a randomized placebo-controlled trial comparing the effect of bovine colostrum tablets or placebo on non-streptococcal sore throat in young adults no statistically significant difference in illness duration was found. The participants were thus regarded as one cohort. The authors analysed 10.0 cm visual analogue scales (VAS) scores for 'sickness' and sore throat, using 1.0 cm as a cut-off for recovery. They furthermore explored whether the VAS for sore throat was a good test to discriminate between recovered/not recovered by use of a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Results. For sore throat, it was found that 51% had recovered by day 6 and 91% had recovered by day 8. Similarly for sickness, 65% had recovered by day 6 and 94% by day 8. The daily VAS scores for 'sickness' and sore throat were highly correlated (p =0.001). The mean day of recovery from 'sickness' and sore throats (based on VAS scores) was 5.5 and 4.7 respectively and 5.3 based on the dichotomous outcome for throat pain. The ROC curve revealed that a VAS score < 1.0 was the best cut-off point for recovery, with a sensitivity of 0.74 and a specificity of 0.90. Conclusion. Almost all the patients had recovered by day 8. A high correlation was found between sickness and sore throat. These data will assist clinicians and others promoting self-care to set realistic expectations regarding recovery from URTI in young adults. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.