Individual characteristics and quitting in apprentices exposed to high-molecular-weight agents

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 May;161(5):1508-12. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.161.5.9906113.


To determine whether specific immunological sensitization (SIS) and symptoms of allergy are associated with quitting apprenticeships with exposure to high-molecular-weight (HMW) agents. In a cohort study of 769 apprentices starting career programs in animal health technology (AHT), pastry-making (PM), and dental hygiene technology (DHT), health status was assessed at baseline and yearly for up to 44 mo. Subjects who quit the apprenticeship were contacted and offered a last series of measurements as if they pursued. The effect of various factors-at baseline and during the career program-on quitting was examined. Eighty-nine of 769 subjects (11.6%) quit, of whom 74 participated in this study. In multivariate analysis, a history of hay fever (OR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.0 to 2.75) and attending the pastry-making program (OR = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.11 to 4.91) were significant determinants for quitting. In the subgroup of AHT, SIS to laboratory animals, hay fever, and shortness of breath were significant determinants by univariate analysis; in PM, the only determinant was age; and in DHT, hay fever. Work-related symptoms during training were not associated with quitting. In a multivariate logistic regression analysis in AHT, including characteristics at baseline and at follow-up, baseline SIS (OR = 2.8, 95% CI = 0.94 to 8.38) and symptoms of asthma in general during follow-up (OR = 2.2, 95% CI = 0.94 to 5.38) were the main determinants for quitting, though they were of borderline significance. We conclude that health-related self-selection out of an apprenticeship with exposure to HMW agents is likely to occur and to cause an attrition bias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens*
  • Animal Technicians
  • Asthma / chemically induced*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Female
  • Food Handling
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Male
  • Molecular Weight
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Personnel Turnover*
  • Risk Factors


  • Allergens