Review – Open Access
Work-related asthma (WRA) accounts for up to 25% of all adults with asthma. Early diagnosis is key for optimal management as delays in diagnosis are associated with worse outcomes. However, WRA is significantly underreported and the median time to diagnosis is 4 years. The objective of this review is to identify the gaps in awareness and reporting of WRA and identify gaps in current knowledge translation strategies for chronic disease in general, and asthma specifically. This will identify reasons for delays in WRA diagnosis, as well inform suggestions to improve knowledge translation strategies for dissemination and implementation of WRA prevention and management guidelines.
Non-systematic literature reviews were conducted on PubMed with a focus on work-related asthma screening and diagnosis, and knowledge translation or translational medicine research in asthma and chronic disease. In total, 3571 titles and abstracts were reviewed with no restriction on date published. Of those, 207 were relevant and fully read. Another 37 articles were included and reviewed after citation reviews of articles from the initial search and from suggestions from editors. In total, 63 articles were included in the final review.
Patients, employers, and healthcare professionals lack awareness and under-report WRA which contribute to the delayed diagnosis of WRA, primarily through lack of education, stigma associated with WRA, and lack of awareness and screening in primary care. Knowledge translation strategies for asthma research typically involve the creation of guidelines for diagnosis of the disease, asthma care plans and tools for education and management. While there are some prevention programs in place for certain industries, gaps in knowledge translation strategies including lack of screening tools currently available for WRA, poor education of employers and physicians in identifying WRA, and education of patients is often done post-diagnosis and focuses on management rather than prevention or screening.
Future knowledge translation strategies should focus on educating employees and employers well before potential exposure to agents associated with WRA and screening for WRA in primary care to enable health care providers to recognize and diagnose WRA.