Accuracy and reliability of 'specialized' physical therapists in auscultating tape-recorded lung sounds

Physiother Can. Winter 1993;45(1):21-4.


This study investigated the accuracy and inter-rater reliability of 'specialized' physical therapists in the auscultation of tape-recorded lung sounds. In addition, a correlation was investigated between accuracy of interpretation and the number of years of specialization in the field of cardiorespiratory physical therapy. This research follows an earlier study which investigated the accuracy and inter-rater reliability of auscultating tape-recorded lung sounds in a 'non-specialized' cohort of physical therapists. The subjects were 26 'specialized' cardiorespiratory physical therapists working in acute urban teaching hospitals. These individuals were required to have been practising currently and exclusively for at least one year in the area of cardiorespiratory physical therapy. Participants listened with a stethoscope to five different sounds and identified them from a standardized list of terms. One of three tapes with the same lung sounds in different order was randomly selected for each physical therapist. The percentage of correct answers for all subjects was calculated. An accurate response in the detection of lung sounds was arbitrarily defined as a percentage of correct answers of 70% or greater. The difference between the pooled correct response rate of 50% and the arbitrarily set value of 70% was statistically significant (z = 2.23, p < 0.05), indicating that the 'specialized' physical therapists were not accurate in identifying lung sounds. There was no relationship evident between the accuracy and the number of years of cardiorespiratory 'specialization' (r = 0.08). Analysis of inter-rater reliability revealed 'fair agreement' (kappa = 0.26) among subjects. These results were similar to those found in the previous study.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Auscultation / standards*
  • Auscultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Ontario
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / classification
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / standards*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Respiratory Function Tests / standards*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Tape Recording