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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham, Birmingham.


Background Employment rates among those with COPD are lower than those without COPD, but little is known about the factors which affect COPD patients’ ability to work.
Methods Multivariable analysis of the Birmingham COPD Cohort Study baseline data to assess the associations between lifestyle, clinical and occupational characteristics and likelihood of being in paid employment among working age COPD patients.
Results 608/1889 COPD participants were of working age of whom 248 (40.8%) were in work. Older age (60-64 years vs 30-49 years: OR=0.28; 95% 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 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 breathlessness component of BODE was significantly associated with employment.
Conclusions 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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233—242
JournalInternational journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2017