'Sniffin' sticks': olfactory performance assessed by the combined testing of odor identification, odor discrimination and olfactory threshold

Chem Senses. 1997 Feb;22(1):39-52. doi: 10.1093/chemse/22.1.39.


'Sniffin' Sticks' is a new test of nasal chemosensory performance based on pen-like odor dispensing devices. It comprises three tests of olfactory function, namely tests for odor threshold (n-butanol, testing by means of a single staircase), odor discrimination (16 pairs of odorants, triple forced choice) and odor identification (16 common odorants, multiple forced choice from four verbal items per test odorant). After extensive preliminary investigations the tests were applied to a group of 104 healthy volunteers (52 female, 52 male, mean age 49.5 years, range 18-84 years) in order to establish test-retest reliability and to compare them with an established measure of olfactory performance (the Connecticut Chemosensory Clinical Research Center Test, CCCRC). Performance decreased with increasing age of the subjects (P < 0.001). Coefficients of correlation between sessions 1 and 2 were 0.61 for thresholds, 0.54 for discrimination and 0.73 for identification. Butanol thresholds as obtained with the CCCRC increased as a function of age; this relation to the subjects' age was not found for the CCCRC odor identification task. The test-retest reliability for CCCRC thresholds was 0.36, for odor identification it was 0.60. It is concluded that 'Sniffin' Sticks' may be suited for the routine clinical assessment of olfactory performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic