Effect of Behavioral Cough Suppression Therapy Delivered via Telehealth

Nathaniel Sundholm, Sandeep Shelly, Miranda L. Wright, Jane Reynolds, Laurie Slovarp, Amanda I. Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: Behavioral cough suppression therapy (BCST) has demonstrated up to 88% effectiveness at treating refractory chronic cough (RCC). With onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with many other medical services, BCST shifted to telehealth delivery. Our group hypothesized that BCST delivered via telemedicine by a specialized Speech-Language Pathologist would be comparable to previously reported response to treatment for in-person settings. Study Design: Retrospective review. Methods: An Emory IRB approved, retrospective review of electronic medical records was completed for RCC patients who received BCST via telehealth from March 2020 through January 2022 at Emory Voice Center. Patients were included in the study if they had a diagnosis of RCC, were referred for BCST, were seen for at least one therapy session in the telehealth setting, and provided Cough Severity Index (CSI) data pre and post-treatment. Patients were excluded if they had incomplete datasets, a known pulmonary condition, structural laryngeal disorders, smoking history, dysphagia, and ACE-inhibitor use. Change in CSI score pre- and post-treatment was calculated to determine treatment effect. Paired-samples t-tests were conducted to compare pre-and post-treatment CSI score change. Results: Fifty-one RCC patients were included in this study; 88% were female with an average age of 60 years (SD = 12.68). Post-treatment CSI scores were significantly lower than pretreatment CSI scores (P < 0.0001). These findings are comparable to historical documented CSI change achieved with in-person BCST. Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence of the efficacy of BCST via telehealth for treating RCC. The findings of this study support the continued flexibility in speech-language pathology service delivery to include in-person and telehealth platforms for RCC beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Voice
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Behavioral Cough Suppression Therapy
  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngology
  • Speech Language Pathology
  • Telehealth
  • Treatment outcomes


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