Consequences of asthma on job absenteeism and job retention

Scand J Public Health. 2012 Jun;40(4):377-84. doi: 10.1177/1403494812449079.


Aims: Various social and economic effects are associated with asthma. This quantitative study describes the effects of current asthma on work life evaluated from the number of weeks receiving transfer incomes.

Methods: The study population comprised 7,241 persons answering the ECRHS II screening questionnaire, which was sent to a random age and gender stratified sample of 10,000 persons aged 20 to 44 years. Participants with current asthma were identified by positive answers to a set of validated questions. Transfer incomes for a five-year period were registered from a study-independent national database, which collects all public administered transfer incomes in Denmark. The numbers of weeks receiving unemployment, welfare, sick-leave and disability benefits were identified for each participant and differences between asthmatics and non-asthmatics were analyzed.

Results: Asthmatics had significantly more annual weeks receiving welfare (36.6 vs. 20.7, p=0.00), sick leave (9.2 vs. 6.6, p=0.00) and disability (19.3 vs. 11.4, p=0.00) benefits than non-asthmatics. Adult-onset asthmatics had increased prevalence rate ratios for disability of 2.40 (95% confidence interval 1.70-3.40). Blue collar work significantly increased the probability of all public transfer incomes.

Conclusions: Current asthma makes it harder to keep a job. Adult-onset asthmatics and blue collar workers are particularly affected.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Asthma / economics
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sick Leave / economics
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Security / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult