Occupational Asthma Reference

Moore VC, Jaakkola MS, Burge PS, A Systematic Review of Serial Peak Expiratory Flow Measurements in the Diagnosis of Occupational Asthma, Annals of Respiratory Medicine, 2010;1:31-44,

Keywords: occupational asthma, peak expiratory flow, sensitivity, specificity, return rate, adequate data quantity

Known Authors

Sherwood Burge, Oasys Sherwood Burge

Vicky Moore, Oasys Vicky Moore

Maritta Jaakkola, Oulu University Finland Maritta Jaakkola

If you would like to become a known author and have your picture displayed along with your papers then please get in touch from the contact page. Known authors can choose to receive emails when their papers receive comments.


This paper systematically reviews literature on the application of serial peak expiratory flow (PEF) measurements in the diagnosis of occupational asthma and calculates summary estimates of the sensitivity, specificity and feasibility of serial PEFs.

Papers were searched for on the Medline database via the PubMed website (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez) and on the Birmingham Chest Clinic departmental website (www.occupationalasthma.com) from 2004 until April 2009 using the search terms “Peak flow AND occupational asthma” and “Peak flow AND work related asthma”. Abstracts were screened to select those justifying a full paper review. Papers used in the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF) guidelines (current until June 2004) were also reviewed. Case studies and narrative reviews were excluded. Type of analysis, quality of paper, sensitivity and specificity of serial PEFs compared to reference tests and return rates were documented. Results were pooled from all studies to produce overall estimates.

A total of 80 abstracts were reviewed, leading to 23 full papers for further review plus 15 papers from the 2004 BOHRF review. 7 papers were excluded (mostly for duplicate data) leaving 31 papers for inclusion. The pooled sensitivity of serial PEF fulfilling minimum data quantity requirements for a diagnosis of occupational asthma was 82% (95% CI 76-90) and the pooled specificity 88% (95% CI 80-95). Return rates were similar between PEFs requested through workplace studies (85%) and those requested in a clinical setting (78%) with 61% being interpretable for a diagnosis of occupational asthma from either setting.

Based on a systematic literature search, serial PEF measurement is a feasible, sensitive and specific test for the diagnosis of occupational asthma, when potential sources of error are understood.

Full Text


Please sign in or register to add your thoughts.

Oasys and occupational asthma smoke logo