Introduction Whilst harmful inhaled workplace exposures are known to be associated with either the development or aggravation of asthma, little is known about the specific relationship between asthma, occupational exposures and health-related quality of life.
Methods Adults aged over 55 years in the Sheffield area of the UK were randomly mailed a self-completed questionnaire (including questions on respiratory symptoms and physician-diagnosed disease, smoking and occupational history); responders were invited to perform lung function (FEV1 and FVC), and to complete the EQ-5D-3L instrument. A measure of socioeconomic deprivation (SED) derived from postal code data was also included.
Results 623 individuals provided data as detailed above. 57% were male, 62% were “ever smokers”, 13% had an exclusive diagnosis of asthma (without any other respiratory disease) and 62% reported occupational exposure to vapours, gases, dusts or fumes (VGDF). A linear regression analysis was performed using the EQ-5D summary index score as the dependent variable and reported doctor diagnosed asthma, age, gender, percentage predicted FEV1 (PPFEV),smoking history and prior history of VGDF exposure as independent variables. SED (p<0.001), Age (p<0.001), gender (p<0.001) and VGDF exposure (p<0.001) were all independently associated with a lower quality of life. Asthma (p=0.394) and smoking (p=0.541) were not.
Discussion These data do not support a link between self reported doctor diagnosed asthma and a reduction in quality of life in this population, after correcting for the effects of other relevant factors, although do support a link between occupational exposure to VGDF and a reduced health-related quality of life.