Daines L, McLean S, Buelo A, Lewis S, Sheikh A, Pinnock H

NPJ primary care respiratory medicine (2019) 29(19)

Diagnosing asthma is challenging. Misdiagnosis can lead to untreated symptoms, incorrect treatment and avoidable deaths. The best combination of clinical features and tests to achieve a diagnosis of asthma is unclear. As asthma is usually diagnosed in non-specialist settings, a clinical prediction model to aid the assessment of the probability of asthma in primary care may improve diagnostic accuracy. We aimed to identify and describe existing prediction models to support the diagnosis of asthma in children and adults in primary care. We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, TRIP and US National Guidelines Clearinghouse databases from 1 January 1990 to 23 November 17. We included prediction models designed for use in primary care or equivalent settings to aid the diagnostic decision-making of clinicians assessing patients with symptoms suggesting asthma. Two reviewers independently screened titles, abstracts and full texts for eligibility, extracted data and assessed risk of bias. From 13,798 records, 53 full-text articles were reviewed. We included seven modelling studies; all were at high risk of bias. Model performance varied, and the area under the receiving operating characteristic curve ranged from 0.61 to 0.82. Patient-reported wheeze, symptom variability and history of allergy or allergic rhinitis were associated with asthma. In conclusion, clinical prediction models may support the diagnosis of asthma in primary care, but existing models are at high risk of bias and thus unreliable for informing practice. Future studies should adhere to recognised standards, conduct model validation and include a broader range of clinical data to derive a prediction model of value for clinicians.