Updated spirometric reference values for adult Chinese in Hong Kong and implications on clinical utilization

Chest. 2006 Feb;129(2):384-392. doi: 10.1378/chest.129.2.384.


Study objectives: The accuracy of reference values of lung function is important for assessment of severity and functional impairment of respiratory diseases. The aim of the study was to establish updated prediction formulae of spirometric parameters for Hong Kong Chinese and to compare the reference values with those derived from other studies in white and Chinese subjects.

Design: Cross-sectional multicenter study.

Setting: Lung function laboratories of eight regional hospitals in Hong Kong.

Participants: Subjects were recruited by random-digit dialing. One thousand one hundred seventy-six subjects who fulfilled recruitment criteria underwent spirometry.

Measurements: Spirometry was performed according to American Thoracic Society recommendations, and the technique was standardized among the eight participating lung function laboratories.

Results: Evaluable data of 1,089 (494 men and 595 women) healthy nonsmokers aged 18 to 80 years were analyzed. Age and height were found to be the major determinants of FEV1 and FVC, with a linear decline of height-adjusted values with age in both sexes. Spirometric values of this population have increased compared to Chinese populations of similar sex, age, and height two decades ago. Reference values derived from white populations were higher than our values by 5 to 19%, and the degree of overestimation varied with age, sex, and lung function parameter. We also demonstrated that the blanket application of correction factors for Asian populations may not be appropriate. In this study cohort, the distribution-free estimation of age-related centiles was more appropriate for the determination of lower limits of normal.

Conclusions: Our findings underscore the need to use reference values based on updated data derived from local populations or those matched for ethnicity and other sociodemographic characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Spirometry*
  • Vital Capacity