Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Eur Respir J. 2003 Aug;22(2):268-73.

Population impact of different definitions of airway obstruction.

Author information

Dept of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.


There is currently no consensus on the criteria for diagnosing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This study evaluated the impact of different definitions of airway obstruction on the estimated prevalence of obstruction in a population-based sample. Using the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, obstructive airway disease was defined using the following criteria: 1) self-reported diagnosis of chronic bronchitis or emphysema; 2) forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC) <0.70 and FEV1 <80% predicted (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) Stage IIA); 3) FEV1/FVC below the lower limit of normal; 4) FEV1/FVC <88% pred in males and <89% pred in females; 5) FEV1/FVC <0.70 ("fixed ratio"). Spirometry in this dataset did not include reversibility testing, making it impossible to distinguish reversible from irreversible obstruction. Rates in adults varied from 77 per 1,000 (self-report) to 168 per 1,000 (fixed ratio). For persons aged >50 yrs, the fixed ratio criteria produced the highest rate estimates. For all subgroups tested, the GOLD Stage II criteria produced lower estimates than other spirometry-based definitions. Different definitions of obstruction may produce prevalence estimates that vary by >200%. International opinion leaders should agree upon a clear definition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that can serve as a population-based measurement criterion as well as a guide to clinicians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center