Protocol - Respiratory Rate - Adult

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

Specific Instructions



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
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 Examination


Adult, Senior


Adults, senior

Selection Rationale

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



caDSR Common Data Elements (CDE) Person Respiratory Rate Text 2970219 CDE Browser
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Resp rate adult proto 62634-1 LOINC
Human Phenotype Ontology Tachypnea HP:0002789 HPO
caDSR Form PhenX PX091403 - Respiratory Rate Adult Protocol 5969580 caDSR Form
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:

• No significant changes to measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Protocol Name from Source

Potter, P. A.,?et al. Fundamentals of Nursing,?1985


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 Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX091403040000 Breathing depth comments N/A
PX091403030000 Breathing pattern comments N/A
PX091403010000 Number of respiratory cycles in one minute Variable Mapping
PX091403020000 Respiratory Depth Comments N/A
Measure Name

Respiratory Rate

Release Date

January 29, 2010


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 rate - adult, Respiratory, breaths per minute, inspiration, expiration, auscultation

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
91401 Respiratory Rate - Infant
91402 Respiratory Rate - Child
91403 Respiratory Rate - Adult
91404 Respiratory Rate - Infant

There are no publications listed for this protocol.