The association between occupation and asthma in general medical practice

Chest. 1999 May;115(5):1259-64. doi: 10.1378/chest.115.5.1259.


Background: In general practice settings, the proportion of adult asthma attributable to occupational factors is not known.

Objective: The goal of this study was to estimate the proportion of adult asthma cases that can be attributed to occupational factors initiating new disease onset and exacerbating preexisting disease.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of interview data for 150 adults with asthma recruited from a random sample of family practice specialists. We ascertained the asthma and work histories of the subjects and estimated the proportion with likely work-initiated asthma and work-related asthma recrudescence.

Results: Seventy-four subjects (49%) reported adult-onset asthma while employed; an additional 25 (17%) reported recrudescence of previously quiescent childhood-onset asthma during employment. Of those with new-onset asthma while employed, 15 (10% of the study group; 95% confidence interval, 5 to 15%) were employed in occupations at increased risk of occupational asthma initiation on the basis of an independent job scoring matrix. Of those with asthma recrudescence in adulthood, seven (5% of the study group; 95% confidence interval, 2 to 8%) were employed in occupations at increased risk of exposures aggravating asthma.

Conclusions: Among adults with asthma treated in general practice settings, > 1 in 10 patients has a work history strongly suggestive of a potential relationship between exposure and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Occupations
  • Risk Factors