Article Text


Epidemiology of lung disease
S110 Employment histories of people with asthma in the 1958 birth cohort
  1. R Ghosh1,
  2. D Jarvis1,
  3. D Strachan2,
  4. P Cullinan1
  1. 1Imperial College, London, UK
  2. 2St. Georges, University of London, London, UK


Reports suggest that people with asthma experience frequent job changes, perhaps to avoid working environments that worsen their asthma. The aim of this analysis is to compare the number of periods of unemployment and jobs from early to mid adult life in people with and without asthma. Due to the differing employment histories of men and women the analyses are presented stratified by sex.

Methods Participants from the 1958 birth cohort who provided a full occupational history and information on asthma at ages 16 and 42 (n=9856) were included. Employment was defined as a period spent in a job, in child/family care or in full-time education. Unemployment was defined as a period out of employment due to unemployment, sickness/disability or other unspecified reasons. Non-parametric methods were used to determine differences in (1) ever being unemployed (2) number of unemployment periods and (3) number of jobs (all to the age of 42 years) by asthma status (childhood asthma, adult onset asthma and the reporting of ‘ever asthma’ at age 42).

Results 45.8% of men and 39.5% of women had ever been unemployed by age 42. The median number of jobs by age 42 was 6 (range 1–23) and of unemployment periods was 0 (range 0–15).

  1. In women, adult onset asthma and reporting ‘ever asthma’ at 42 were significantly associated with ever being unemployed (p=0.026, p<0.000 respectively), but no associations were seen in men.

  2. Childhood asthma and reporting ‘ever asthma’ at 42 were not associated with the number of unemployment periods in either men or women. However, adult onset asthma was associated with increased number of unemployment periods in women (p=0.033), but not men.

  3. Differences in number of jobs by asthma status are tabulated.

Conclusions In a cohort of adults born in 1958, women with adult onset asthma had an increased risk of experiencing unemployment, an increased number of unemployment periods and an increased number of jobs by age 42 years. In men, there was limited evidence that their asthma influenced their employment experience. It is not known whether these associations are seen in more recent cohorts.

Median number of:nJobs MEN (IQR)p Value (Mann–Whitney)nJobs WOMEN (IQR)p Value (Mann–Whitney)
Childhood asthma NO29725 (3 to 7)p=0.31034366 (4 to 9)p=0.513
Childhood asthma YES4875 (3 to 7)3526 (4 to 9)
Adult onset asthma NO35495 (3 to 7)p=0.58338526 (4 to 9)p=0.005
Adult onset asthma YES2505 (3 to 8)4247 (4 to 9)
Ever asthma by 42 NO42485 (3 to 7)p=0.02944696 (4 to 9)p<0.000
Ever asthma by 42 YES4805 (3 to 8)6237 (4 to 9)

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  • Funding This work was funded by Asthma UK, RG PhD funded by the COLT Foundation.

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