Self-assessment of olfactory function using the “Sniffin’ Sticks”

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


Background: A precise and reliable test of the olfactory function is indispensable for the diagnosis of the olfactory disorder (OD). Despite of this, in a clinical context, often there is no place in daily routine for time-consuming procedures. This study aimed to examine if the assessment of olfactory function using the “Sniffin’ Sticks” is suitable for self-assessment. Methods: Participants comprised 84 healthy control subjects (HC) and 37 OD patients. The “Sniffin’ Sticks” test battery consisting of odor threshold (T), discrimination (D) and identification (I) tests was used for self- and assisted assessments. To save time, we applied the 8-item wide step version of the T test and the 8-item D test, whereas the I task remained the same as the original version. The whole test included two sessions, with each session comprising a self-assessment part performed by the participants themselves, and an assisted-assessment part performed by the examiner. Results: Sniffin’ Sticks self-assessment was efficient in distinguishing between self-reported HC subjects and OD patients (p’s < 0.01), and the scores did not differ significantly from the assisted-assessment (p’s > 0.05). In the self-administered I and TDI tests, there was a moderate to excellent test–retest reliability (ICC = 0.51–0.93, p’s < 0.01), and a strong to excellent correlation with the assisted assessment (r = 0.71–0.92, p’s < 0.01). However, the self-administered T and D tests only exhibited low to moderate test–retest reliability (ICC = 0.30–0.72, p’s < 0.05) and correlations with the assisted test (r = 0.31–0.62, p’s < 0.05). Conclusions: The Identification self-test is appropriate to be solely applied, and is therefore an easy-to-use alternative for olfactory screening in a larger segment of patients. The whole “Sniffin’ Sticks” self-test also shows good measurement properties and is therefore a suitable backup in clinical practice, but improvement is needed due to the simplified D and T self-test.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3673-3685
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean archives of oto-rhino-laryngology
Volume280 (2023)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2023

External IDs

PubMed 36799976
WOS 000934776200001
ORCID /0000-0001-9713-0183/work/146645382
ORCID /0000-0003-1311-8000/work/158767531


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Olfactory dysfunction, Self-assessment, Self-test, Sniffin' Sticks, Sniffin’ Sticks, Test-retest reliability, Test–retest reliability, Reproducibility of Results, Sensory Thresholds, Humans, Self-Assessment, Odorants, Smell, Olfaction Disorders/diagnosis

Library keywords