Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2013;39(1):96-105    pdf full text


Quality of life of patients with asthma related to damp and moldy work environments

by Karvala K, Uitti J, Luukkonen R, Nordman H

Objective Long-term outcomes of asthma related to exposure to workplace dampness are not well known. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of life (QOL) of patients with asthma related to damp and moldy workplaces and characterize factors influencing QOL.

Methods Using a questionnaire, we followed 1267 patients previously examined for suspected occupational respiratory disease related to exposure to damp and moldy indoor environments. In addition to demographic and other background data, the questionnaire included sections on current employment status, QOL, anxiety and depression, somatization, hypochondria, and asthma medication. We compared the QOL of patients with occupational asthma (OA) with that of patients with work-exacerbated asthma (WEA) or symptoms without asthma.

Results Impaired QOL was found among patients diagnosed with OA when they were compared with patients in corresponding environments with WEA or symptoms only. Not working and greater use of asthma medication were major determinants of worse QOL. Psychological factors did not explain the differences between the groups.

Conclusions OA induced by exposure to workplace moisture and molds is associated with QOL deterioration. The impairment is related to being unemployed (due to disability, retirement, job loss or other reasons) and the need for medication.