Validation of the Brief Pediatric Asthma Screen (BPAS)

Wolf, R.L., Berry, C., O'Connor, T. & Coover, L.
Chest, 116, pp. 224s-228s.

Study objectives: The purpose of this study was to confirm the validity of a brief screen for pediatric asthma in schools.

Background: Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, yet the frequency with which this condition is recognized among school-aged children varies widely. Several methods are used to increase the accuracy of detection of asthma, but many are cumbersome and difficult to apply on a large scale.

Design: We elected to validate a five-question instrument, the Brief Pediatric Asthma Screen (BPAS), to screen for the presence of asthma among children attending school in Region 5 of the Chicago school district, where the schools report a 2.7% frequency of asthma. The questionnaire was distributed to the parents of grade-school children at the time of report-card pick-up.

Setting: A clinical assessment was performed on a selected group of children whose parents completed the questionnaire in a school and in a hospital outpatient clinic.

Participants: Of 4,147 questionnaires that we distributed, 1,796 (43%) were returned. We excluded 341 children (19% of the total sample) whose parents reported that they had been diagnosed with asthma. The remaining pool indicated that the children of 183 responders (10%) had symptoms suggestive of asthma, while 1,272 parents (71%) indicated that their children did not have symptoms of asthma.

Measurements and results: We selected 90 of the respondents who did not indicate that their children had a diagnosis of asthma. Of this group, 81 completed the validation, in which their responses suggested symptoms of asthma (n = 34) or no asthma symptoms (n = 47). The children of these respondents were given a blinded clinical evaluation consisting of history, physical examination, and spirometry. The survey demonstrated a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 81.2% for the presence of asthma among those who were unaware of the diagnosis.

Conclusions: The BPAS is brief, can be filled out by parents, and appears accurate in detecting asthma.


Wagner Faculty