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Are Operating Room Nurses at Higher Risk of Severe Persistent Asthma? The Nurses' Health Study

Le Moual, Nicole PhD; Varraso, Raphaëlle PhD; Zock, Jan Paul PhD; Henneberger, Paul ScD; Speizer, Frank E. MD; Kauffmann, Francine MD; Camargo, Carlos A. Jr MD, DrPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 8 - p 973–977
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318297325b
Original Articles

Objective: To assess the associations between operating room (OR) nursing, a category of health care workers at high risk of exposure to various inhaled agents, and asthma severity/control among women with asthma.

Methods: The level of severity/control in nurses with prevalent doctor-diagnosed asthma in 1998/2000 was compared, using nominal logistic regression, in OR nursing (n = 69) and administrative nursing (n = 546) from the US Nurses' Health Study for whom detailed information on asthma and nursing employment status was available.

Results: We observed a significant association between OR nursing, compared with administrative nursing, and severe persistent asthma (adjusted odds ratio, 2.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 5.77).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that nurses working in the OR are at a higher risk of severe persistent asthma. Further studies with detailed estimates of occupational exposures, especially to disinfectant/cleaning agents, are warranted.

From the Respiratory and Environmental Epidemiology Team (Drs Le Moual, Varraso, and Kauffmann), Inserm, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, and Université Paris Sud 11 (Drs Le Moual, Varraso, and Kauffmann), Villejuif, France; Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (Dr Zock) and Hospital del Mar Research Institute (Dr Zock); CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (Dr Zock), Barcelona, Spain; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Dr Henneberger), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WVa; Channing Division of Network Medicine (Drs Speizer and Camargo), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital; and Department of Emergency Medicine (Dr Camargo), Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Address correspondence to: Nicole Le Moual, PhD, Respiratory and Environmental Epidemiology Team, Inserm, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, U1018, 16, avenue Paul Vaillant Couturier, 94807 Villejuif Cedex, France (

This study was funded by research grants CA-87969, HL-63841, and AI-52338 from the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland).

The findings and conclusions in the report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine