Validation of an Index for Functionally Important Respiratory Symptoms among Adults in the Nationally Representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, 2014-2016

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 14;18(18):9688. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18189688.


The purpose of this study is to validate the seven-item wheezing module from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children (ISAAC) in the nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. Adult participants with complete Wave 2-3 data were selected, including those with asthma but excluding those with COPD and other respiratory diseases (n = 16,295). We created a nine-point respiratory symptom index from the ISAAC questions, assessed the reliability of the index, and examined associations with self-reported asthma diagnosis. Threshold values were assessed for association with functional outcomes. The weighted prevalence for one or more respiratory symptom was 18.0% (SE = 0.5) for adults without asthma, 70.1% (SE = 1.3) for those with lifetime asthma, 75.7% (SE = 3.7) for adults with past-year asthma not on medications, and 92.6% (SE = 1.6) for those on medications. Cronbach's alpha for the respiratory symptom index was 0.86. Index scores of ≥2 or ≥3 yielded functionally important respiratory symptom prevalence of 7-10%, adequate sensitivity and specificity for identifying asthma, and consistent independent associations with all functional outcomes and tobacco use variables. Respiratory symptom index scores of ≥2 or ≥3 are indicative of functionally important respiratory symptoms and could be used to assess the relationship between tobacco use and respiratory health.

Keywords: PATH Study; functional outcomes; patient-reported outcomes; respiratory health; tobacco use; wheeze.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use
  • Tobacco*