University of Oulu

Heibati, B., Jaakkola, M.S., Lajunen, T.K. et al. Do hospital workers experience a higher risk of respiratory symptoms and loss of lung function?. BMC Pulm Med 22, 303 (2022).

Do hospital workers experience a higher risk of respiratory symptoms and loss of lung function?

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Author: Heibati, Behzad1,2,3; Jaakkola, Maritta S.1,2,3; Lajunen, Taina K.1,2,3;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Medicine, Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, University of Oulu, Aapistie 5B, P.O. Box 5000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Faculty of Medicine, Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
3Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
4West Virginia University School of Public Health, Morgantown, WV, USA
5Department of Occupational Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
6Department of Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
7Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-03-10


Background: Hospital work environment contains various biological and chemical exposures that can affect indoor air quality and have impact on respiratory health of the staff. The objective of this study was to investigate potential effects of occupational exposures on the risk of respiratory symptoms and lung function in hospital work, and to evaluate potential interaction between smoking and occupational exposures.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 228 staff members in a hospital and 228 employees of an office building as the reference group in Shiraz, Iran. All subjects completed a standardized ATS respiratory questionnaire and performed a spirometry test.

Results: In Poisson regression, the adjusted prevalence ratios (aPR) among the hospital staff were elevated for cough (aPR 1.90, 95% CI 1.15, 3.16), phlegm production (aPR 3.21, 95% CI 1.63, 6.32), productive cough (aPR 2.83, 95% CI 1.48, 5.43), wheezing (aPR 3.18, 95% CI 1.04, 9.66), shortness of breath (aPR 1.40, 95% CI 0.93, 2.12), and chest tightness (aPR 1.73, 95% CI 0.73, 4.12). Particularly laboratory personnel experienced increased risks of most symptoms. In linear regression adjusting for confounding, there were no significant differences in lung function between the hospital and office workers. There was an indication of synergism between hospital exposures and current smoking on FEV1/FVC% (interaction term β = − 5.37, 95% CI − 10.27, − 0.47).

Conclusions: We present significant relations between hospital work, especially in laboratories, and increased risks of respiratory symptoms. Smoking appears to enhance these effects considerably. Our findings suggest that policymakers should implement evidence-based measures to prevent these occupational exposures.

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Series: BMC pulmonary medicine
ISSN: 1471-2466
ISSN-E: 1471-2466
ISSN-L: 1471-2466
Volume: 22
Issue: 1
Article number: 303
DOI: 10.1186/s12890-022-02098-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: BH was funded by Biocenter Oulu, Finland. TKL was financially supported by the Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation and by Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. JJKJ was supported by the Academy of Finland (Grant No. 310372).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 310372
Detailed Information: 310372 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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