What are the questionnaire items most useful in identifying subjects with occupational asthma?

Eur Respir J. 2005 Dec;26(6):1056-63. doi: 10.1183/09031936.05.00024705.


The present study assessed the usefulness of key items obtained from a clinical "open" questionnaire prospectively administered to 212 subjects, referred to four tertiary-care hospitals for predicting the diagnosis of occupational asthma (OA). Of these subjects, 72 (34%) were diagnosed as OA (53% with OA due to high-molecular-weight agents) according to results of specific inhalation challenges, and 90 (42%) as non-OA. Wheezing at work occurred in 88% of subjects with OA and was the most specific symptom (85%). Nasal and eye symptoms were commonly associated symptoms. Wheezing, nasal and ocular itching at work were positively, and loss of voice negatively associated with the presence of OA in the case of high-, but not low molecular-weight agents. A prediction model based on responses to nasal itching, daily symptoms over the week at work, nasal secretions, absence of loss of voice, wheezing, and sputum, correctly predicted 156 out of 212 (74%) subjects according to the presence or absence of OA by final diagnosis. In conclusion, key items, i.e. wheezing, nasal and ocular itching and loss of voice, are satisfactorily associated with the presence of occupational asthma in subjects exposed to high-molecular-weight agents. Therefore, these should be addressed with high priority by physicians. However, no questionnaire-derived item is helpful in subjects exposed to low-molecular-weight agents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Time Factors