Agreement between obstructive airways disease diagnoses from self-report questionnaires and medical records

Jessica Weakley, Mayris P. Webber, Fen Ye, Rachel Zeig-Owens, Hillel W. Cohen, Charles B. Hall, Kerry Kelly, David J. Prezant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate agreement between self-reported obstructive airways disease (OAD) diagnoses of asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/emphysema obtained from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) monitoring questionnaires with physician diagnoses from FDNY medical records. Method: We measured sensitivity, specificity, and agreement between self-report and physician OAD diagnoses in FDNY members enrolled in the World Trade Center (WTC) monitoring program who completed a questionnaire between 8/2005-1/2012. Using logistic models, we identified characteristics of those who self-report a physician diagnosis that is also reported by FDNY physicians. Results: 20.3% of the study population (N =14,615) self-reported OAD, while 15.1% received FDNY physician OAD diagnoses. Self-reported asthma had the highest sensitivity (68.7%) and overall agreement (91.9%) between sources. Non-asthma OAD had the lowest sensitivity (32.1%). Multivariate analyses showed that among those with an OAD diagnosis from FDNY medical records, inhaler use (OR =4.90, 95% CI =3.84-6.26) and respiratory symptoms (OR =1.55 [95% CI =1.25-1.92]-1.77 [95% CI =1.37-2.27]) were associated with self-reported OAD diagnoses. Conclusion: Among participants in the WTC monitoring program, sensitivity for self-reported OAD diagnoses ranges from good to poor and improves by considering inhaler use. These findings highlight the need for improved patient communication and education, especially for bronchitis or COPD/emphysema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Obstructive airways disease (OAD)
  • Population study
  • Self-reported diagnoses
  • Sensitivity/specificity/agreement
  • World Trade Center (WTC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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