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PLoS One. 2017 Sep 14;12(9):e0184840. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184840. eCollection 2017.

Validation of the diabetes screening tools proposed by the American Diabetes Association in an aging Chinese population.

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Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.
Research Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone and Healthy Aging, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.



Diabetes is a serious global health problem. A simple and effective screening tool should have substantial public health benefit. We investigated the performance of the latest American Diabetes Association diabetes screening methods in our aging Chinese population.


Subjects without diabetes who returned for the 4th Hong Kong Cardiovascular Risk Factors Prevalence Study in 2010-2012 were evaluated for the probability of having diabetes with reference to the age- and body mass index-based screening criteria (screening criteria) and the diabetes risk test (risk test), and the conclusion drawn was compared to their measured glycaemic status. Diabetes was defined by fasting glucose ≥ 7 mmol/L or 2-hour post oral glucose tolerance test glucose ≥ 11.1 mmol/L.


1415 subjects, aged 58.1±10.2, were evaluated. 95 (6.7%) had diabetes. The risk test showed good accuracy (area under the receiver operating curve 0.725) in screening for diabetes with an optimal cut-off score of five. Compared to the screening criteria, the risk test had significantly better specificity (0.57 vs. 0.41, p<0.001), positive predictive value (0.12 vs. 0.09, p<0.001) and positive diagnostic likelihood ratio (1.85 vs. 1.37, p<0.001). To diagnose one case of diabetes, fewer subjects (11 vs. 18) needed to be tested for blood glucose if the risk test was adopted.


The risk test appears to be a more effective screening tool in our population. It is simple to use and can be adopted as a public health strategy for identifying people with undiagnosed diabetes for early intervention.

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