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Am J Ind Med. 2013 May;56(5):541-9. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22178. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Predictors of respiratory sickness absence: an international population-based study.

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Section of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.



Respiratory tract-related occupational disability is common among adults of working age. We examined occupational vapors, gas, dust, or fume (VGDF) exposure as a predictor of disability, based on respiratory sickness absence among the actively employed, at an early point at which prevention may be most relevant.


Currently employed European Community Respiratory Health Survey II participants (n = 6,988) were classified into three mutually exclusive, condition/symptom-based categories: physician-diagnosed asthma, self-reported rhinitis, and wheeze/breathlessness (n = 4,772). Logistic regression analysis estimated the odds of respiratory sickness absence (past 12 months) by VGDF exposure.


In the condition/symptom groups, 327 (6.9%) reported respiratory sickness absence. Exposure to VGDF was associated with increased odds of respiratory sickness absence: asthma odds ratio [OR] 2.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1-3.6), wheeze/breathlessness OR 2.2 (95% CI 1.01-4.8); rhinitis OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.02-3.4).


One in 15 currently employed with asthma, breathlessness, or rhinitis reported respiratory sickness absence. VGDF exposure doubled the odds of respiratory sickness absence, suggesting a focus for disability prevention.

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