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Ann Occup Environ Med. 2015 May 18;27:14. doi: 10.1186/s40557-015-0065-0. eCollection 2015.

The effect of applying ethnicity-specific spirometric reference equations to Asian migrant workers in Korea.

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Na-Eun Hospital, Gajwa-3dong 277-7, 8, Seo-gu, Incheon, Republic of Korea.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine & Institute of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Inje University Busan Paik Hospital, Bokji-ro 75, Busanjin-gu, Busan, Republic of Korea.



Asian migrant workers in Korea have various ethnicities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the difference in spirometric interpretation made using the set of third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) reference equations and the relevant ethnicity-specific reference sets.


Spirometry was performed on 166 migrant and 498 Korean male workers between March and November 2012. We analyzed the spirometric data of healthy never-smokers. Spirometric patterns were evaluated using the NHANES III reference set and some relevant ethnicity-specific equations (Eom's equation for Koreans, Ip's equation for East Asians, Crapo's equation for Central Asians, Memon's equation for South Asians, and Gnanou's equation for Southeast Asian people).


In all migrant groups except the Central Asian group, the forced expiratory volume in 1 second percentage (FEV1%) and forced vital capacity percentage (FVC%) calculated using each of the ethnicity-specific reference equations considered were significantly higher than those calculated using the NHANES III reference set. This study showed that in the evaluation of the spirometric result of subjects from Southeast Asia or South Asia, the percentage of cases with an abnormal FEV1 or FVC increased when the NHANES III set of equations was used as compared to when the ethnicity-specific equations were used.


We found that the spirometric results of all ethnic groups were higher and the composition of the abnormal spirometric result was lower when the ethnicity-specific reference equations were used instead of the NHANES III reference set.


Ethnicity; Reference equations; Spirometry

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