Sensitivity and specificity of asthma definitions and symptoms used in a survey of childhood asthma

Christine L.M. Joseph, Betsy Foxman, Frederick E. Leickly, Edward Peterson, Dennis Ownby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

We compared the ability of definitions/symptoms of asthma to identify urban, elementary schoolchildren with physician-diagnosed asthma and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) post-exercise challenge. Definitions of asthma from the literature were compared, including American Thoracic Society (ATS) and British Medical Research Council (BMRC) definitions. Modified ATS had the highest sensitivity (77%), whereas BMRC had the highest specificity (99%). The most sensitive symptom was 'wheeze with cold' (89%). The most specific symptoms were 'medication required,' and 'breathing normal between attacks' (95%). Definitions and symptoms were poor predictors of BHR. Researchers can use these estimates in selecting and defining specific populations of children with asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-573
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Asthma
Volume36
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

Keywords

  • Asthma
  • BHR
  • Physician-diagnosed asthma
  • Screening
  • Symptoms
  • Urban schoolchildren

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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