Cross-Cultural Comparison of Data Using the Odor Stick Identification Test for Japanese (OSIT-J)

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A new olfactory test, the odor stick identification test for Japanese (OSIT-J), has been developed in Japan. To determine if the OSIT-J would be effective cross-culturally, we administered the test to 52 US and 50 Japanese subjects reporting normal olfactory function. The average composite OSIT-J test score for US subjects was significantly lower (77%) than that for Japanese subjects (94%, P < 0.0001). Both US and Japanese subjects correctly identified eight of the 13 odorants included in the OSIT-J with scores of 80% or higher. However, for five odorants, the US subjects' scores fell below 80% and were consistently lower than Japanese subjects, presumably reflecting cultural differences in odor experience. Most of the US subjects found the OSIT-J to be easy, interesting, pleasant, and short in duration. Although the 13-odorant OSIT-J was found to be suitable for testing US populations, elimination of five test odorants that were unfamiliar to US subjects significantly enhanced the test's effectiveness. Findings from this study emphasize the importance of identifying test odorants that may have a cultural bias, a crucial issue when comparing data obtained from different smell tests used at smell and taste centers around the world.

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