Are we failing workers with symptoms suggestive of occupational asthma?

Prim Care Respir J. 2007 Oct;16(5):304-10. doi: 10.3132/pcrj.2007.00064.


Aims: To assess the route to secondary care for patients with possible occupational asthma, and to document the duration of workrelated symptoms and referral times.

Methods: Consecutive patients with suspected occupational asthma were recruited to a case series from six secondary care clinics with an interest in occupational asthma. Semi-structured interviews were performed and hospital case notes were reviewed to summarise relevant investigations and diagnosis.

Results: 97 patients were recruited, with a mean age of 44.2 years (range 24-64), 51 of whom (53%) had occupational asthma confirmed as a diagnosis. Most (96%) had consulted their general practitioner (GP) at least once with work-related respiratory symptoms, although these had been present for a mean of 44.6 months (range 0-320 months) on presentation to secondary care. Patients experienced a mean delay for assessment in secondary care of 4 years (range 1-27 years) following presentation in primary care.

Conclusions: Significant diagnostic delay currently occurs for patients with occupational asthma in the UK.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors