Occupational Asthma Reference

Park D, Moore VC, Burge CBSG, Jaakkola MS, Robertson AS, Burge PS, Serial PEF measurement is superior to cross-shift change in diagnosing occupational asthma, Eur Respir J, 2009;34:574-578,

Keywords: post shift, PEF, oasys, cross shift, diagnosis, occupational asthma, challenge

Known Authors

Sherwood Burge, Oasys Sherwood Burge

Vicky Moore, Oasys Vicky Moore

Cedd Burge, Oasys Cedd Burge

Alastair Robertson, Selly Oak Hospital Alastair Robertson

Maritta Jaakkola, Oulu University Finland Maritta Jaakkola

Dan Park, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital Dan Park

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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 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.

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