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MRC Dyspnoea scale / MRC Breathlessness scale

The dyspnoea scale has been in use for many years for grading the effect of breathlessness on daily activities. This scale measures perceived respiratory disability1, The MRC dyspnoea scale is simple to administer as it allows the patients to indicate the extent to which their breathlessness affects their mobility.

The 1-5 stage scale is used alongside the questionnaire to establish clinical grades of breathlessness.

Questionnaire on Respiratory Symptoms

The questionnaire was first published in 1960 under the approval of the MRC Committee on the Aetiology of Chronic Bronchitis. This was revised and a new version published in 1966. When the committee disbanded, the responsibility for it was passed to the newly formed MRC Committee for Research into Chronic Bronchitis who again revised it in 1976. When this committee disbanded, the responsibility for the questionnaire passed to the Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health (CEOH) who reviewed it and issued what remains to be the most recent version 1986.

The Questionnaire on Respiratory Symptoms was designed to be used in large scale epidemiological studies only (100-1000 people). It cannot be used on an individual basis.

Permission to re-use the MRC Dyspnoea scale.

In accordance with MRC’s Open Access Policy, permission is granted from the MRC to use the MRC Dyspnoea Scale for any purpose (including research and commercial purposes) and MRC hereby agrees not to assert its rights in relation to the proposed use of the MRC Dyspnoea Scale.

You must give appropriate credit (“Used with the permission of the Medical Research Council”) and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests that the MRC endorses you or your use.

We cannot give permission to use any modified versions of this scale including the mMRC Scale.

Note: The MRC is not in a position to authorise translations or check back-translations


1The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of disability being "any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being”.