Employment status and changes in working career in relation to asthma: a cross-sectional survey

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Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. 2018 Feb 14;13(1):8

Title: Employment status and changes in working career in relation to asthma: a cross-sectional survey
Author: Taponen, Saara; Lehtimäki, Lauri; Karvala, Kirsi; Luukkonen, Ritva; Uitti, Jukka
Publisher: BioMed Central
Date: 2018-02-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/232547
Abstract: Abstract Background Asthmatics confront inconveniences in working life that make it more difficult to pursue a sustainable career, such as unemployment and work disability. Ways of dealing with these inconveniences may be career changes. More needs to be known about the backgrounds and consequences of career changes among asthmatics, especially their relation to asthma or a change in asthma symptoms. The aim of this study was to compare earlier career changes of adults with asthma who are working full time to those who have drifted away from active working life because of work disability, unemployment or early retirement. The frequency of having changed tasks, work place or occupation, whether the changes had been driven by asthma and furthermore, whether the changes had affected their asthma symptoms were investigated. Methods In this population-based survey study, all patients with reimbursement rights for asthma aged 20–65 years in the city of Tampere (total population 190,000), Finland (n = 2613) were recruited. The questionnaire was sent in October 2000 and the response rate was 79%. The questionnaire included questions e.g. on changing tasks, work place and occupation, whether these changes were driven by asthma or associated with change of asthma symptoms. The respondents were divided into four groups: working full-time, work disability, unemployed and retired due to age. We applied ANOVA with Dunnet’s post-test (variances were not equal between the groups) for a continued variable age and Chi-squared tests for categorical variables. Logistic regression models were built using unemployed vs. full-time work or work disability vs. full-time work as an outcome variable. A p-value of <.05 was considered statistically significant. Results Adults with asthma working full time had more often made changes in their career, but not as often driven by asthma as those with current work disability. The reason for changing work place compared to full-time workers (24.9%) was more often mainly or partly due to asthma among those with work disability (47.9%, p < 0.001) and the unemployed (43.3%, p = 0.006). Of those who made career changes because of asthma, a major proportion (over 67%) reported relief in asthma symptoms. Changing tasks (OR 5.8, 95% CI 1.9–18.0, for unemployment vs. full-time work), work place (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.1–7.0, for work disability vs. full-time work and OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.3–5.4, for unemployment vs. full-time work) or occupation (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.2–6.0, for unemployment vs. full-time work) mainly because of asthma was associated with an elevated risk for undesirable employment status even after adjusting for age, gender, smoking and professional status. Conclusions Career changes that were made mainly because of asthma were associated with undesirable employment status in this study. However, asthma symptoms were relieved after career changes especially among those who reported asthma to be the reason for the change. In addition to proper treatment and counselling of asthma patients towards applicable area of work or study, it may be beneficial to support early career changes in maintaining sustainable working careers among adults with asthma.
Subject: Work ability
Job change
Career change

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