Adverse work outcomes and events attributed to asthma

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Sep;44(3):236-45. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10257.


Background: Asthma is a chronic condition that has been linked to lower employment rates, job effectiveness, productivity and increased absenteeism. The objectives of this study were to assess the impact of asthma on work function, workplace events, and career.

Methods: One hundred ninety-six patients in an urban practice completed standardized major and minor life events scales and rated whether adverse work events were caused by asthma.

Results: Thirty-eight percent of the patients had either changed jobs, work hours, or work duties, and 65% had taken days off because of asthma. In multivariate analyses, less education, not wanting to work, more comorbidity, prior use of oral corticosteroids, and current use of oral beta agonists and methylxanthines (P < or = 0.05 for all comparisons) were associated with these outcomes. Also, currently working patients were more likely to be using inhaled corticosteroids (P = 0.018). Thirty-nine percent believed asthma had adversely affected their career by causing them to: not pursue a desired career; not get promoted due to absenteeism; change to a worse job; and be perceived as incapable of more responsible assignments. Seven percent had a negative work event in the preceding year that they attributed to asthma, including job loss and unfavorable interactions with co-workers.

Conclusions: Patients attribute daily and long-term adverse work outcomes to asthma. Asthma severity and demographic and occupational characteristics were associated with adverse occurrences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Work Capacity Evaluation
  • Work*