Background: Currently, little data is available about the management of asthma in the working population. The aim of this study was to describe asthma control and severity among workers according to current or previous allergic rhinitis comorbidity.
Methods: A network of occupational physicians participated in this pilot study on a voluntary basis. They included a random sample of salaried workers during their systematic occupational medical check-up. All subjects completed a self-administered questionnaire based on the European Community Respiratory Health Survey screening questionnaire, and if they reported any respiratory symptoms including allergic rhinitis, the physician filled in a medical questionnaire. Current asthma control and severity were evaluated according to 2006 Global Initiative for Asthma guidelines.
Results: A total of 110 occupational physicians from two French regions participated. Out of the 6906 employees screened, 3102 identified respiratory symptoms and completed the medical questionnaire and performed spirometry. Overall, 374 were identified as current asthmatics, including 271 (72.5%) with allergic rhinitis. Among current asthmatics with current allergic rhinitis (n = 95), 68.8% had partially controlled asthma or uncontrolled asthma, including 51.6% who received insufficient anti-asthmatic treatment. Partly or no control asthma was not associated with current rhinitis (OR = 1.4; 95% CI: 0.8-2.7). Current asthmatics with current or previous allergic rhinitis had a significantly lower risk of emergency department visits than current asthmatics without allergic rhinitis (respectively 11.6, 17.1 and 29.1%; P = 0.002).
Conclusions: Most current asthmatics both with and without allergic rhinitis had uncontrolled asthma, with inappropriate treatment. Future intervention strategies need to be developed for effective control and prevention of asthma in the workplace.