Facilities for investigating occupational asthma in UK non-specialist respiratory departments

Occup Med (Lond). 2008 Jan;58(1):71-3. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqm090. Epub 2007 Aug 29.


Background: The facilities which should be available to physicians offering specialist occupational asthma services have recently been agreed upon by a UK panel of experts.

Aims: This study aimed to investigate whether these facilities are available in UK non-specialist secondary care respiratory departments and to document tertiary care referral patterns.

Methods: A random sample of 100 UK respiratory units was selected, and the lead consultant invited to participate. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to document information on departmental facilities available for investigating cases of occupational asthma and utilization of tertiary referral centres.

Results: In total, 66% of consultants interviewed had seen a case of occupational asthma in the previous month, and 76% reported having ever referred a patient with suspected occupational asthma to a specialist centre for further investigation (referral distance range 1-111 miles). All the departments were able to perform the investigations previously deemed an absolute necessity in all patients. The availability of in-house facilities that were deemed as must be available varied between 3-100%.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that while the majority of basic facilities are widely available, many respiratory departments do not have direct access to investigations routinely required to investigate occupational asthma. Access to specialist occupational respiratory centres varies within the UK, and in some parts of the country involves long travelling distances for patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / standards*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / supply & distribution
  • Referral and Consultation / standards
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • United Kingdom