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Int J Epidemiol. 1997 Dec;26(6):1243-9.

Sick building syndrome: an emerging stress-related disorder?

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Institute of Environmental Epidemiology, Ministry of the Environment, Singapore.



This study examined the role of work-related psychosocial stress in the aetiology of sick building syndrome and tested the hypothesis that in buildings with no recognized environmental problems, health complaints typical of the syndrome were primarily stress-related.


A case-control study used data from confidential questionnaires to assess symptoms and perception of the physical and psychosocial environment among 2160 subjects in 67 offices. Working conditions were also inspected and indoor air quality monitored.


We found an incremental trend in prevalence of sick building syndrome among office workers who reported high levels of physical and mental stress, and decreasing climate of co-operation. This association was confirmed after multivariate adjustment for significant personal and environmental exposure factors. Using a subsample, we further modelled interaction between stress and the other covariates but none achieved statistical significance.


Our study confirmed stress to be a significant and independent determinant of the health complaints, and that symptoms compatible with the sick building syndrome in many cases were stress-related. Our findings underscore the importance of personal and organizational stress management to prevent ill health at the office.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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