Serial PEF measurement is superior to cross-shift change in diagnosing occupational asthma.

Daniel Park, Vicky Moore, CB Burge, Maritta Jaakkola, Alastair Robertson, P Burge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-shift measurements of peak expiratory flow (PEF) are commonly employed in the diagnosis of occupational asthma, although evidence for this approach is lacking. The current paper presents an evaluation of the technique. Mean changes in PEF across morning/day shifts were compared between workers with occupational asthma, confirmed using specific challenge testing, and non-working asthmatics. Individuals were divided into a development set, used to identify the optimum cross-shift change for diagnosing occupational asthma, and an evaluation set, used to test the sensitivity and specificity of this value. Comparative analysis of serial PEF records was performed using the Oasys-2 computerised system. A cross-shift decrease in PEF of 5 L.min(-1) achieved acceptable specificity in the development set. Applied to the evaluation set, this cut-off had a specificity of 90.9% and a sensitivity of 50%. Sensitivity could not be improved without unacceptable compromise to specificity. Analysis of serial PEF records using linear discriminant analysis identified occupational asthma with a sensitivity of 83.3% and a specificity of 90.9%. Serial analysis using mean work/rest day PEF comparison had a sensitivity of 66.7% and a specificity of 100%. Cross-shift changes in PEF in morning/day-shift workers have poor sensitivity in diagnosing occupational asthma, and are inferior to serial techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-8
Number of pages5
JournalThe European respiratory journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009


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