Asthma impacts on workplace productivity in employed patients who are symptomatic despite background therapy: a multinational survey
Received 6 February 2019
Accepted for publication 21 May 2019
Published 11 July 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 183—194
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single-blind
Peer reviewers approved by Dr Melinda Thomas
Peer reviewer comments 3
Editor who approved publication: Dr Luis Garcia-Marcos
Kevin Gruffydd-Jones,1 Mike Thomas,2 Miguel Roman-Rodríguez,3 Antonio Infantino,4 J Mark FitzGerald,5 Ian Pavord,6 Jennifer M Haddon,7 Ulrich Elsasser,8 Christian Vogelberg9
1Box Surgery, Box, Wiltshire, UK; 2Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK; 3Son Pisà Primary Health Care Centre, Balearic Health Centre, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; 4Società Italiana Interdisciplinare per le Cure Primarie (SIICP), Bari, Italy; 5Institute for Heart and Lung Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; 6Respiratory Medicine Unit and Oxford Respiratory NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 7TA Dig Excellence + Healthcare Inno Med, Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH, Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany; 8Biostatistics and Data Sciences, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Biberach an der Riss, Germany; 9Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Allergology, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Background: Asthma affects millions of people worldwide, with many patients experiencing symptoms that affect their daily lives despite receiving long-term controller medication.
Purpose: Work is a large part of most people’s lives, hence this study investigated the impact of uncontrolled asthma on work productivity in adults receiving asthma maintenance therapy.
Patients and methods: An online survey was completed by employed adults in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Spain and the UK. Participants were confirmed as symptomatic using questions from the Royal College of Physicians’ 3 Questions for Asthma tool. The survey contained the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment – Specific Health Problem questionnaire and an open-ended question on the effect of asthma at work.
Results: Of the 2,055 patients on long-term maintenance therapy screened, 1,598 were symptomatic and completed the survey. The average percentage of work hours missed in a single week due to asthma symptoms was 9.3%, ranging from 3.5% (UK) to 17.4% (Brazil). Nearly three-quarters of patients reported an impact on their productivity at work caused by asthma. Overall work productivity loss (both time off and productivity whilst at work) due to asthma was 36%, ranging from 21% (UK) to 59% (Brazil). When asked how asthma made participants feel at work, many respondents highlighted how their respiratory symptoms affect them. Tiredness, weakness and mental strain were also identified as particular challenges, with respondents describing concerns about the perception of colleagues and feelings of inferiority.
Conclusions: This study emphasizes the extent to which work time is adversely affected by asthma in patients despite the use of long-term maintenance medication, and provides unique personal insights. Strategies to improve patients’ lives may include asthma education, optimizing asthma management plans and running workplace well-being programs. Clinicians, employers and occupational health teams should be more aware of the impact of asthma symptoms on employees, and work together to help overcome these challenges.
Keywords: work productivity, asthma, burden, costs
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