Respiratory disability and impairment: What is new?

Philip Harber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: This review summarizes recent advances concerning respiratory impairment and disability. RECENT FINDINGS: The traditional impairment assessment approach, depending heavily on clinical pulmonary function testing to estimate the match between the patients sustainable oxygen consumption and the workplace requirements, continues to be widely used. Recent work indicates the need to reassess underlying concepts for several reasons: The relationship between basic pulmonary function tests and sustainable oxygen consumption varies among patients and conditions. Studies of the respiratory demands of modern workplaces need to be updated. The concepts are less easily applied to asthma than other disorders. Research studies present differing definitions of 'disability', and therefore the methods of relating impairment (function loss) and disability require reassessment. Recent advances provide improved understanding of the large societal and personal impacts of respiratory impairment and disability. SUMMARY: Clinicians, policymakers, and researchers should carefully consider how well the current highly specified impairment rating systems can be improved for accuracy and relevance to current home and work activities. In addition to measuring 'impairment', clinicians should consider factors affecting how impairments lead to disability..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in pulmonary medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 6 2015


  • impairment
  • impairment rating
  • respiratory disability
  • respiratory impairment
  • work ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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