Increase in airway obstruction between 1993 and 2012 in Switzerland: An observational study

Swiss National Cohort Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Rationale: Most studies determining the prevalence of airway obstruction are limited to short time periods. Objectives: Because temporal trends of obstruction in populations are largely unknown, we determined the prevalence of airway obstruction over 20 years in yearly general population samples in Switzerland between 1993 and 2012. Methods: We analyzed data of 85,789 participants aged 35 years and older who provided spirometric measurements as part of the LuftiBus lung function campaign. We linked data from the 2003- 2012 period to the Swiss National Cohort to adjust for annual population differences. Spirometry was performed without bronchodilation, according to American Thoracic Society guidelines. We used Global Lung Initiative (GLI) and Hankinson reference equations to identify obstruction. Results: Obstruction prevalence increased between 1993 and 2012 from 6.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.5 to 6.7) to 15.6% (95% CI, 13.8 to 17.3) based on GLI estimates and from 5.3% (95% CI, 4.7 to 5.9) to 15.4% (95% CI, 13.6 to 17.1) based on Hankinson estimates. When adjusted for participant demographics, air pollutant and occupational exposures, altitude, and season, the prevalence ratios of obstruction were 1.54 (95% CI, 1.22 to 1.93) and 1.65 (95% CI, 1.33 to 2.04) for GLI- and Hankinsondefined airway obstruction, respectively, for 2012 compared with 2003. Conclusions: Though prebronchodilator measurements likely overestimate the prevalence of airway obstruction in absolute terms compared with post-bronchodilator measurements, we found an increase in airway obstruction prevalence. Even with adjustment for several well-known risk factors for obstruction to make the populations across the years more comparable, we still saw a statistically significant increase in prevalence over this time period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Environmental pollutants
  • Epidemiology
  • Obstructive lung diseases
  • Occupational exposure
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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