Protocol - Respiratory Rate - Adult

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Protocol Name from Source:

Not Applicable; see source


Publicly available


A study staff member counts the number of complete respiratory cycles (one inspiration and one expiration) a subject breathes in 60 seconds.


1) Use a watch that can measure time in seconds.

2) Place the subject’s arm in a relaxed position across his abdomen or lower chest.

3) Observe a complete respiratory cycle (one inspiration and one expiration).

4) Count the number of respirations for 60 seconds. For adults with regular respiratory rhythm, it may be adequate to count for 30 seconds and multiply by two.

5) While counting, note whether depth is shallow, normal, or deep, and whether rhythm is normal or an altered pattern.

6) Record the results.

Personnel and Training Required

Staff trained to count respiratory rates with a watch and auscultate breath sounds.

Equipment Needs

Watch that can measure time in seconds and a stethoscope


Requirement CategoryRequired
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individualNo
Major equipmentNo
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collectionNo
Specialized trainingNo

Mode of Administration


Life Stage:

Adult, Senior

Specific Instructions:


Research Domain Information

Release Date:

November 28, 2017


Respiratory rate is the number of breaths an individual takes within a specific amount of time (frequently given in breaths per minute).


Respiratory rate is a low-burden, quantitative variable that can be used to distinguish individuals with and without various forms of lung disease.

Selection Rationale

The working group selected this protocol to standardize the approach to measurement of respiratory rate.




Common Data Elements (CDE)Person Respiratory Rate Text2970219CDE Browser
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC)Resp rate adult proto62634-1LOINC

Process and Review

[link[phenx.org/node/118|Expert Review Panel #6]] (ERP 6) reviewed the measures in the Respiratory domain.

Guidance from ERP 6 includes the following:

• No significant changes to measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary


Potter, P. A., & Perry, A. G. (1985). Fundamentals of nursing. St. Louis, MO: C.V. Mosby Company.

General References

Evans-Smith P. (2005). Taylor’s Clinical Nursing Skills: A Nursing Process Approach. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

McFadden, J. P., Price, R. C., Eastwood, H. D., & Briggs, R. S. (1982). Raised respiratory rate in elderly patients: a valuable physical sign. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Ed.), 284(6316), 626-627.

Taylor, C. Lillis, C, LeMone, P. & Le Bon, M (2005). Skill Checklists to Accompany Fundamentals of Nursing: The Art and Science of Nursing Care (5th Ed). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Protocol ID:



Export Variables
Variable NameVariable IDVariable DescriptionVersiondbGaP Mapping
PX091403_Respiratory_CyclesPX091403010000Number of respiratory cycles in one minute4N/A
PX091403_Respiratory_Depth_CommentsPX091403020000Respiratory Depth Comments4N/A
PX091403_Breathing_Pattern_CommentsPX091403030000Breathing pattern comments4N/A
PX091403_Breathing_Depth_CommentsPX091403040000Breathing depth comments4N/A