Protocol - Respiratory Rate - Child

Add to My Toolkit

A study staff member counts the number of complete respiratory cycles (one inspiration and one expiration) a subject 4 to 16 years of age breathes in 60 seconds.


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

2) Child (4-16 years of age) should be seated, may be awake or asleep but should be calm, not agitated.

3) Observe a complete respiratory cycle and count partial respiratory cycles as complete.

4) Count the number of respirations for 60 seconds or in two separate blocks of 30 seconds each.

5) While counting, note the child’s respiratory depth, breathing pattern, and depth of breathing.

6) Record the results.

Protocol Name from Source:

Not Applicable; see source


Publicly available

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
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Physical Measurement

Life Stage:

Child, Adolescent


Children ages 4 to 16 years

Specific Instructions:

The protocol for children should be administered in a quiet place where the child can remain calm. The observer or listener should reliably count or listen to the child’s respiratory cycles for up to 60 seconds and observe the child’s respiratory pattern.

Selection Rationale

The child protocol was used in a study of 1,109 healthy children ages 4 to 16 years to establish age-related references for respiratory rate.



Common Data Elements (CDE) Person Respiratory Rate Text 2970219 CDE Browser
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Resp rate child proto 62633-3 LOINC
Derived Variables


Process and Review

Expert Review Panel #6 (ERP 6) reviewed the measures in the Respiratory domain.

Guidance from ERP 6 includes the following:

• Re-ordered list of activities in protocol.

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)


Wallis, L. A., Healy, M., Undy, M. B., & Maconochie, I. (2005). Age related reference ranges for respiration rate and heart rate from 4 to 16 years. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 90, 1117-1121.

General References

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

Fleming, S., Thompson, M., Stevens, R., Heneghan, C., Pluddemann, A., Maconochie, I., Tarassenko, L., & Mant, D. (2011). Normal ranges of heart rate and respiratory rate in children from birth to 18 years of age: A systematic review of observational studies. Lancet, 377, 1011-1018.

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
PX091402_Breathing_Depth_Comments PX091402040000 Breathing depth comments 4 N/A
PX091402_Breathing_Pattern_Comments PX091402030000 Breathing pattern comments 4 N/A
PX091402_Respiratory_Cycles PX091402010000 Number of respiratory cycles in one minute 4 N/A
PX091402_Respiratory_Depth_Comments PX091402020000 Respiratory Depth Comments 4 N/A
Research Domain Information
Measure Name:

Respiratory Rate

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.


Respiratory, breaths per minute, inspiration, expiration, auscultation