FEV1Q: a race-neutral approach to assessing lung function

Aparna Balasubramanian, Robert A. Wise, Sanja Stanojevic, Martin R. Miller, Meredith C. McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Forced expiratory volume in 1 s quotient (FEV1Q) is a simple approach to spirometry interpretation that compares measured lung function to a lower boundary. This study evaluated how well FEV1Q predicts survival compared with current interpretation methods and whether race impacts FEV1Q. Methods White and Black adults with complete spirometry and mortality data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database for lung transplant referrals were included. FEV1Q was calculated as FEV1 divided by 0.4 L for females or 0.5 L for males. Cumulative distributions of FEV1 were compared across races. Cox proportional hazards models tested mortality risk from FEV1Q adjusting for age, sex, height, smoking, income and among UNOS individuals, referral diagnosis. Harrell’s C-statistics were compared between absolute FEV1, FEV1Q, FEV1/height2, FEV1 z-scores and FEV1 % predicted. Analyses were stratified by race. Results Among 7182 individuals from NHANES III and 7149 from UNOS, 1907 (27%) and 991 (14%), respectively, were Black. The lower boundary FEV1 values did not differ between Black and White individuals in either population (FEV1 first percentile difference ≤0.01 L; p>0.05). Decreasing FEV1Q was associated with increasing hazard ratio (HR) for mortality (NHANES III HR 1.33 (95% CI 1.28–1.39) and UNOS HR 1.18 (95% CI 1.12–1.23)). The associations were not confounded nor modified by race. Discriminative power was highest for FEV1Q compared with alternative FEV1 approaches in both Black and White individuals. Conclusions FEV1Q is an intuitive and simple race-neutral approach to interpreting FEV1 that predicts survival better than current alternative methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2301622
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

Cite this