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Original Research: Asthma |

Trends in Occupations and Work Sectors Among Patients With Work-Related Asthma at a Canadian Tertiary Care Clinic

Simeon Gotzev, BMSc; Joshua C. Lipszyc, HBA; Dale Connor, MD; Susan M. Tarlo, MBBS, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

FUNDING/SUPPORT: S. G. was supported by summer student awards from the Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, and the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Diseases, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.

aDepartment of Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

bDepartment of Medicine, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

cDepartment of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

dDalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Susan Tarlo, MBBS, FCCP, 399 Bathurst St, EW7-449, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, M5T 2S8, Canada


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2016;150(4):811-818. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.07.006
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Background  Work-related asthma (WRA) is the most common chronic occupational lung disease in the developed world. Several factors including sociodemographic status and occupation/industry increase the risks of developing WRA. In this study, we sought to identify changes in patterns and characteristics among patients with WRA over a 15-year period in an occupational lung disease clinic.

Methods  We performed a retrospective analysis of patients with WRA charts at the Occupational Lung Disease Clinic of a University Hospital in Toronto, Canada. Patients were divided into two periods classified by first attendance at the clinic 2000 through 2007 and 2008 through 2015. Comparisons between the two periods included: sociodemographic characteristics, smoking status, occupations, exposures, and submitted workers’ compensation claims.

Results  Fewer occupational asthma cases were seen in the more recent period vs the earlier period (40 vs 74 cases), with a smaller reduction in work-exacerbated asthma cases (40 vs 58). The recent period included a significantly smaller proportion employed in the manufacturing industry and isocyanate-induced cases compared with the earlier period. An increased proportion were employed in health-care and education industries (primarily cleaners and teachers) in the recent period, consistent with a corresponding increased frequency of cleaning agents and dust exposures.

Conclusions  The changes observed in work sectors in the patients with WRA in this clinic in Toronto are consistent with reductions reported in Ontario workers’ compensation claims for occupational asthma and may relate to preventive measures. Cleaners and teachers should be a focus of further intervention measures for work-related asthma.

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