Occupational Asthma Reference

Lavoie KL, Joseph M, Bacon SL, Psychological distress and occupational asthma, curr Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2009;9:103-109,

Keywords: review, Canada

Known Authors

Maryann Joseph, Hôpital de Sacré Coeur, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Maryann Joseph

Kim Lavoie, Hôpital de Sacré Coeur, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Kim Lavoie

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Purpose of review: To summarize recent findings on the psychological impact of occupational asthma, on the basis of a review of medical and psychological literature published between 1998 and 2008. For the purposes of this review, 'psychological impacts' are defined as the experience of psychological stress or distress, which refers to the experience of negative emotions (e.g., anxiety and sadness/depression). When severe and chronic, psychological distress may reach clinical levels and is referred to as a 'psychiatric disorder', which is a clinical diagnosis based on established diagnostic criteria.

Recent findings: Only one original article assessing psychological impacts has been published in the past 10 years (in 2007). Levels of psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction) were all in the clinical range, and rates of anxiety disorders and dysthymia (a chronic form of depression) affected approximately 35 and 23% of patients, respectively.

The paucity of available literature indicates that the study of psychological factors associated with occupational asthma is still in its infancy. Though preliminary and in need of replication, the only published study to date suggests that patients with occupational asthma may be highly anxious and many are chronically depressed, a finding that is consistent with previous studies with nonoccupational asthmatics. The established link between psychological factors (e.g., depression and anxiety) and nonoccupational asthma suggests that future studies are desperately needed to more comprehensively assess the scope and severity of the psychological burden of this disease.

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