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Respir Med. 2007 Sep;101(9):1903-8. Epub 2007 Jun 19.

Approaches to the diagnosis and management of occupational asthma amongst UK respiratory physicians.

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Centre for Workplace Health, Health and Safety Laboratory, Harpur Hill, Buxton, SK17 9JN Derbyshire, UK.


This study aimed to assess the approach to the diagnosis and management of occupational asthma amongst general (non-specialist) respiratory consultants in the UK. A random sample of 100 UK general respiratory physicians were invited to participate, and asked to provide information on their diagnostic approach to a case scenario of a patient with possible occupational asthma relating to flour exposure. Participation rates were 42% for the main part of the study. Less than half of consultants specifically reported they would ask whether symptoms improved away from work, and just over a third mentioned examining the patient. All of those interviewed recommended a chest X-ray, and 98% simple spirometry. Eighty-six per cent suggested measurement of serial peak flows, recorded for between 2 and 8 weeks, with measurements taken half-twelve hourly. Less than half advocated a specific flour allergy test, and almost one-quarter (23%) would not perform any immunological test at all. Once a diagnosis of occupational asthma was confirmed, less than two-thirds of those interviewed commented they would recommend some form of exposure reduction, and only 28% specifically stated they would offer compensation advice. The diagnosis of occupational asthma by general respiratory physicians within the UK lacks standardisation, and in some cases falls short of evidence-based best practise.

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