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Original Research |

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

Simeon Gotzev, BMSc; Joshua C. Lipszyc, HBA; Dale Connor, MMath; Susan M. Tarlo, MB BS FRCPC
Author and Funding Information

Declaration of interest: The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.

Funding Information: Simeon Gotzev 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.

Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto; Toronto Western Hospital

Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto; Toronto Western Hospital and St Michael’s Hospital

University of Toronto

Toronto Western Hospital; Department of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health; University of Toronto

Corresponding Author: Dr. Susan Tarlo, Mailing Address: 399 Bathurst Street, EW7-449, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2S8.


Copyright 2016, . All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.07.006
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Published online

Abstract

Background  Work-related asthma (WRA) is the most common chronic occupational lung disease in the developed world. Several factors including socio-demographic status, and occupation / industry, increase the risks of developing WRA. In this study, we sought to identify changes in patterns and characteristics among WRA patients over a fifteen-year period in an occupational lung disease clinic.

Methods  We performed a retrospective analysis of WRA patient 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 2000-2007 and 2008-2015. Comparisons between the two periods included: socio-demographic characteristics, smoking status, occupations, exposures, and submitted workers’ compensation claims.

Results  Fewer occupational asthma cases were seen in the more recent period versus 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 our work-related asthma patients 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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