Development of a questionnaire weighted scoring system to target diagnostic examinations for asthma in adults: A modelling study

Timothy Frank, Sybil Hirsch, Timothy L. Frank, Jonathan L. Shapiro, Michelle L. Hazell, Peter I. Frank

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Identification and treatment of unrecognised asthmatics in the community is important for improving the health of the individual and minimising cost and quality of life burden. It is not practical to offer clinical diagnostic assessment to whole communities, and a simple tool such as a questionnaire is required to identify a smaller target group. Conventional questionnaire screening methods which separate individuals into positive and negative categories have resulted in large numbers of individuals requiring clinical assessment. This study has therefore developed and tested a weighted scoring system that prioritises those most urgently in need, based on their questionnaire responses. Methods: A stratified random sample of adult respondents to a general practice postal questionnaire survey were categorised 'asthmatic' or 'non-asthmatic' according to three expert physicians' opinions. Based on this categorisation, logistic regression was used to derive weights reflecting the relative importance of each question in predicting asthma, allowing calculation of weighted scores reflecting likelihood of asthma. Respondents scoring higher than a chosen threshold would be offered diagnostic examination. Results: Age and presence of wheeze were most influential (weight 3) and overall weighted scores ranged from -1 to 13. Positive predictive values (PPV) were estimated. For example, setting the threshold score at nine gave an estimated PPV for asthma diagnosis of 93.5%, a threshold score of seven corresponded to PPV 78.8%. PPV estimates were supported by examining 145 individuals from a new survey. Conclusion: Weighted scoring of questionnaire responses provides a method for evaluating the priority level of an individual 'at a glance', minimising the resource wastage of examining false positives. © 2004 Hirsch et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBMC Family Practice
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2004


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