Background: The aim of the study was to assess the quality of life in subjects with occupational asthma after removal from exposure to the offending agent by comparison with a group of subjects paired for clinical and functional indices in order to show the separation between the two groups of subjects with a hypothesized different quality of life and relate the impairment in quality of life to anthropometric, clinical, and functional variables.
Methods: A previously described asthma quality of life questionnaire (Juniper EF, et al. Thorax 1992;47:76-83) was administered to two groups of subjects in a prospective manner. Information on the clinical and functional severity of asthma was obtained from each subject. Two groups of subjects were assessed: group 1, 134 subjects with occupational asthma who were seen more than 2 years after the diagnosis was confirmed, and group 2, 91 subjects who were seen in specialized asthma clinics of tertiary care hospitals for treatment of nonoccupational asthma and matched with 91 of the 134 subjects with occupational asthma from group 1 according to need for medication and (when available), baseline forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and level of bronchial responsiveness.
Results: A statistically significant difference was seen in the four domains (asthma symptoms, limitation of activities, emotional dysfunction, environmental stimuli) and in the total score of the quality of life questionnaire between the two groups of matched subjects; the mean difference in the total score was 0.6 on a scale of 1 (no limitation or none of the time) to 7 (severe limitation or all the time). A weak but statistically significant correlation between the total score and several indices (FEV1, bronchial responsiveness and asthma severity) was generally obtained.
Conclusion: The quality of life of subjects with occupational asthma is slightly less satisfactory than that of subjects paired for clinical and functional indices, although the magnitude of the difference is small; and quality of life is weakly correlated with clinical and functional indices.