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Birmingham COPD Cohort: a cross-sectional analysis of the factors associated with the likelihood of being in paid employment among people with COPD

Authors Rai KK, Jordan RE, Siebert WS, Sadhra SS, Fitzmaurice DA, Sitch AJ, Ayres JG, Adab P

Received 10 August 2016

Accepted for publication 10 October 2016

Published 11 January 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 233—242


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Kiran K Rai,1 Rachel E Jordan,1 W Stanley Siebert,2 Steven S Sadhra,3 David A Fitzmaurice,1 Alice J Sitch,1 Jon G Ayres,1,3 Peymané Adab1

1Institute of Applied Health Research, 2The Department of Business and Labour Economics, 3Institute of Clinical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

Background: Employment rates among those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are lower than those without COPD, but little is known about the factors that affect COPD patients’ ability to work.
Multivariable analysis of the Birmingham COPD Cohort Study baseline data was used to assess the associations between lifestyle, clinical, and occupational characteristics and likelihood of being in paid employment among working-age COPD patients.
Results: In total, 608 of 1,889 COPD participants were of working age, of whom 248 (40.8%) were in work. Older age (60–64 years vs 30–49 years: odds ratio [OR] =0.28; 95% confidence interval [CI] =0.12–0.65), lower educational level (no formal qualification vs degree/higher level: OR =0.43; 95% CI =0.19–0.97), poorer prognostic score (highest vs lowest quartile of modified body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise (BODE) score: OR =0.10; 95% CI =0.03–0.33), and history of high occupational exposure to vapors, gases, dusts, or fumes (VGDF; high VGDF vs no VGDF exposure: OR =0.32; 95% CI =0.12–0.85) were associated with a lower probability of being employed. Only the degree of breathlessness of BODE was significantly associated with employment.
This is the first study to comprehensively assess the characteristics associated with employment in a community sample of people with COPD. Future interventions should focus on managing breathlessness and reducing occupational exposures to VGDF to improve the work capability among those with COPD.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, work, employed, breathlessness, severity, VGDF, UK

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