Occupational asthma has been found to be associated with lowered socio-economic outcomes, an increased unemployment rate and a decreased quality of life. The compensation of occupational diseases is comparatively favourable in Finland. Our aim was to follow-up the working status and life satisfaction of patients with diisocyanate-induced asthma in 245 cases diagnosed during 1976-1992. A questionnaire was sent out on average 10 (3-19) yr after the diagnosis to the surviving 235 patients. The questionnaire was validated by re-examining 91 of them clinically, and with spirometry, histamine challenge test and peak flow surveillance. Of the 213 responding patients, 14% were unemployed, and for 50% of them unemployment was caused by asthma. Unemployment was associated with nocturnal asthma symptoms (OR 10.93; CI 2.69-44.452), increased PEF variability (OR 8.46; CI 1.52-46.97) and with the use of short-acting β-sympathomimetic medication (p=0.045). Satisfaction with life was associated with present working (OR 3.50; CI 1.73-7.06) and with good condition of asthma as assessed by the use of asthma medication (OR 0.49; CI 0.27-0.89) and objective measurements of the asthma condition, e.g. PEF variability (OR 0.21; CI 0.08-0.59). As a conclusion, unemployment was remarkably low as compared with earlier reports and related to the period of simultaneous economic recession. Unemployment, as well as dissatisfaction with life were associated with poor conditions of asthma. Unemployment was associated with improper asthma care favouring the use of short-acting β-sympathomimetic medication. Proper follow-up of asthma is essential for minimizing the social complaints of occupational asthma, as well as for enhancing life satisfaction.
2005 by the Japan Society for Occupational Health