Quality of spirometry test performance in children and adolescents : experience in a large field study

Chest. 2000 Sep;118(3):665-71. doi: 10.1378/chest.118.3.665.


Study objective: To determine the ability of children and adolescents to meet the American Thoracic Society (ATS) goals for spirometry quality that were based on results from adults.

Design: Observational.

Participants: More than 4,000 public school students, ages 9 to 18 years.

Measurements: Spirometry was performed annually for 3 years, with the recording of maneuver quality measures of forced expiratory time, end-of-test volume, back-extrapolated volume, and time to peak expiratory flow (PEFT), and the recording of differences between best and second-best FVC, FEV(1), and peak expiratory flow (PEF) values.

Results: Regression analyses showed significant influences of participant age, gender, ethnicity, size, clinical status, and previous testing experience, as well as differences among individual test technicians. In general, these influences were small and explained little of the variance in performance. On average, children with a history of asthma or wheeze performed better quality spirometry than did others. Only PEFT improved significantly from year to year. Overall, only 15% of girls' tests and 32% of boys' tests met the PEFT criterion derived from adults in the Lung Health Study.

Conclusion: Most of the children met adult-based ATS goals for spirometry test performance. Age group-specific criteria are needed to ensure adequately fast PEFT and reproducible PEF values.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • California
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Observation
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods
  • Quality Control*
  • Spirometry / standards*