Accuracy and reliability of physiotherapists in the interpretation of tape-recorded lung sounds

Aust J Physiother. 1995;41(3):179-84. doi: 10.1016/S0004-9514(14)60428-1.


The effect of clinical experience on the accurate and reliable interpretation of auscultated lung sounds was examined by comparing 16 new graduates (Group A) with 16 experienced cardiopulmonary physiotherapists (Group B). Subjects listened to a tape comprising six different lung sounds, with each sound repeated three times in random order. Group B tended to be more accurate than Group A for five of the six sounds but the difference was significant only for the normal breath sound (χ(2) = 6.72, p = 0.01). Intra-rater reliability was poor; for any individual sound, a maximum of nine subjects recorded the same response on all three occasions. There were no significant inter-group differences in reliability. In conclusion, clinical experience had no significant effect on accuracy and reliability.

Keywords: Auscultation; Physical Therapy; Respiratory Sounds.