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Peak expiratory flow rate as a surrogate for forced expiratory volume in 1 second in COPD severity classification in Thailand

Authors Pothirat C, Chaiwong W, Phetsuk N, Liwsrisakun C, Bumroongkit C, Deesomchok A, Theerakittikul T, Limsukon A

Received 20 March 2015

Accepted for publication 13 May 2015

Published 25 June 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 1213—1218

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S85166

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Chaicharn Pothirat, Warawut Chaiwong, Nittaya Phetsuk, Chalerm Liwsrisakun, Chaiwat Bumroongkit, Athavudh Deesomchok, Theerakorn Theerakittikul, Atikun Limsukon

Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Allergy, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand


Background: There are limited studies directly comparing correlation and agreement between peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) for severity classification of COPD. However, clarifying the role of PEFR as a surrogate of COPD severity classification instead of FEV1 is essential in situations and areas where spirometry is not routinely available.
Purpose: To evaluate the agreement between FEV1 and PEFR using Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) severity classification criteria.
Materials and methods: This cross-sectional study included stable COPD patients. Both absolute values and % predicted FEV1 and % predicted PEFR were obtained from the same patients at a single visit. The severity of COPD was classified according to GOLD criteria. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to examine the relationship between FEV1 and PEFR. The agreement of % predicted FEV1 and % predicted PEFR in assigning severity categories was calculated using Kappa statistic, and identification of the limits of agreement was by Bland–Altman analysis. Statistical significance was set at P-value <0.05.
Results: Three hundred stable COPD patients were enrolled; 195 (65.0%) male, mean age 70.4±9.4 years, and mean % predicted FEV1 51.4±20.1. Both correlations between the % predicted FEV1 and PEFR as well as the absolute values were strongly significant (r=0.76, P<0.001 and r=0.87, P<0.001, respectively). However, severity categories of airflow limitation based on % predicted FEV1 or PEFR intervals were concordant in only 179 patients (59.7%). The Kappa statistic for agreement was 0.41 (95% confidence interval, 0.34–0.48), suggesting unsatisfied agreement. The calculated limits of agreement were wide (+27.1% to -28.9%).
Conclusion: Although the correlation between FEV1 and PEFR measurements were strongly significant, the agreement between the two tests was unsatisfied and may influence inappropriate clinical decision making in diagnosis, severity classification, and management of COPD.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, spirometry, agreement

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