Susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infection and touching of the eyes or nose: a cross-sectional study of Japanese workers

J Occup Health. 2013;55(2):66-73. doi: 10.1539/joh.12-0259-oa. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Objectives: This study was a cross-sectional survey of Japanese workers regarding the relationship between touching the eyes or nose and susceptibility to URTI in workers.

Methods: The survey respondents were 4,663 Japanese workers. Subjects were surveyed via a self-administered questionnaire regarding their susceptibility to URTI and how often they touched their eyes or nose. In addition, subjects were surveyed regarding their preventive behaviors and routine behaviors thought to be associated with URTIs. A multiple logistic regression model was used to assess the relationship between susceptibility to URTI and how often the eyes or nose are touched.

Results: Responses from 3,663 individuals who answered the self-administered questionnaire were analyzed. There were 1,590 individuals (42.9%) with a "frequent incidence of URTIs", defined as URTIs more than once a year. In terms of how often the eyes or nose are touched, the odds ratios (95% CI) for a frequent incidence of URTIs among the groups responding "sometimes" and "often" were 1.41 (1.21-1.63) and 1.96 (1.59-2.42) (trend test: p<0.001) compared with the groups responding "never" and "almost never". Multivariate-adjusted odds ratios adjusted for confounding factors, i.e., behaviors to prevent URTIs, routine behaviors associated with URTIs, age, sex and BMI, were 1.33 (1.14-1.54) and 1.69 (1.36-2.09) (trend test: p<0.001).

Conclusions: The present cross-sectional study indicates that susceptibility to URTI and how often the eyes or nose are touched are significantly associated in Japanese workers, independent of preventive behaviors and routine behaviors associated with URTIs

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Eye / microbiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nose / microbiology
  • Occupational Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Occupational Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physical Examination / standards
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / transmission*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Touch