Pooled Cohort Probability Score for Subclinical Airflow Obstruction

Surya P. Bhatt, Pallavi P. Balte, Joseph E. Schwartz, Byron C. Jaeger, Patricia A. Cassano, Paulo H. Chaves, David Couper, David R. Jacobs, Ravi Kalhan, Robert Kaplan, Donald Lloyd-Jones, Anne B. Newman, George O’Connor, Jason L. Sanders, Benjamin M. Smith, Yifei Sun, Jason G. Umans, Wendy B. White, Sachin Yende, Elizabeth C. Oelsner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rationale: Early detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a public health priority. Airflow obstruction is the single most important risk factor for adverse COPD outcomes, but spirometry is not routinely recommended for screening. Objectives: To describe the burden of subclinical airflow obstruction (SAO) and to develop a probability score for SAO to inform potential detection and prevention programs. Methods: Lung function and clinical data were harmonized and pooled across nine U.S. general population cohorts. Adults with respiratory symptoms, inhaler use, or prior diagnosis of COPD or asthma were excluded. A probability score for prevalent SAO (forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity, 0.70) was developed via hierarchical group-lasso regularization from clinical variables in strata of sex and smoking status, and its discriminative accuracy for SAO was assessed in the pooled cohort as well as in an external validation cohort (NHANES [National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey] 2011–2012). Incident hospitalizations and deaths due to COPD (respiratory events) were defined by adjudication or administrative criteria in four of nine cohorts. Results: Of 33,546 participants (mean age 52 yr, 54% female, 44% non-Hispanic White), 4,424 (13.2%) had prevalent SAO. The incidence of respiratory events (Nat-risk = 14,024) was threefold higher in participants with SAO versus those without (152 vs. 39 events/10,000 person-years). The probability score, which was based on six commonly available variables (age, sex, race and/or ethnicity, body mass index, smoking status, and smoking pack-years) was well calibrated and showed excellent discrimination in both the testing sample (C-statistic, 0.81; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80–0.82) and in NHANES (C-statistic, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.80–0.86). Among participants with predicted probabilities > 15%, 3.2 would need to undergo spirometry to detect one case of SAO. Conclusions: Adults with SAO demonstrate excess respiratory hospitalization and mortality. A probability score for SAO using commonly available clinical risk factors may be suitable for targeting screening and primary prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1294-1304
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • airflow obstruction
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • probability score
  • subclinical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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