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Characteristics of work related asthma: results from a population based survey.

Breton CV; Zhang Z; Hunt PR; Pechter E; Davis L
Occup Environ Med 2006 Jun; 63(6):411-415
Objectives: Many risk factors for asthma have been investigated, one of which is the workplace. Work- related asthma is a frequently reported occupational respiratory disease yet the characteristics which distinguish it from non-work-related asthma are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to examine differences between work-related and non-work-related asthma with respect to health care use and asthma control characteristics. Methods: Data from the Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for 2001 and 2002 were used for this analysis. Work-related status of asthma was determined by self-report of ever having been told by a physician that his or her asthma was work-related. Health care measures evaluated were emergency room visits and physician visits for worsening asthma and for routine care. Characteristics of asthma control evaluated were frequency of asthma symptoms, asthma attacks, difficulty sleeping, and asthma medication usage in the last 30 days and limited activity in the past 12 months. Results: The prevalence of lifetime and current asthma in Massachusetts were 13.0% and 9.2%, respectively. Approximately 6.0% (95% CI 4.8 - 7.3) of lifetime and 6.2% (95% CI 4.7 - 7.8) of current asthma cases were work-related. In the past 12 months, individuals with work-related current asthma were 4.8 times (95% CI: 2.0 - 11.6) as likely to report having an asthma attack, 4.8 times (95% CI: 1.8 - 13.1) as likely to visit the emergency room at least once, and 2.5 times (95% CI: 1.1 - 6.0) as likely to visit the doctor at least once for worsening asthma compared to individuals with non-work-related asthma. Conclusions: Work-related asthma is associated with increased frequency of asthma attacks and use of health care services. A better understanding of factors that contribute to differences in health care use and asthma control is needed to improve prevention and control strategies for individuals suffering from the disease.
Bronchial-asthma; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-system-disorders; Lung-disorders; Lung-disease; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Epidemiology; Surveillance-programs
Carrie Breton, MPH, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Building I, Room 1420, 665 Huntington Ave., Boston MA 02115
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008332; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U01-OH-007302
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Source Name
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Performing Organization
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division