Objectives “Traditional” occupational health research has focused on hazard identification in the work environment and the effects on health. Young adults represent 13% of the UK working population, yet little is known about whether pre-existing conditions are associated with their job choice.
Method The study was based on data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). At 16 and 18 years, participants were asked to report their current employment. Information on pre-existing asthma was obtained from previous questionnaires. Multivariate analysis was applied to determine the relationship between previous illness and current occupations.
Results A total of 5087 and 3347 participants responded to the 16 and 18 years questionnaires, respectively. At 16, 4.3% left full time education for employment and 26.0% at 18. Perceived overall health was slightly better among those still in education at 16 years, although such difference was no longer observed at 18. Those with a previous diagnosis of asthma were less likely to be employed in jobs associated with high risk of adult onset asthma (OR = 0.78; 95% CI 0.59–1.02). On the other hand, those who reported to have asthma at 16 but not at 18 were more likely to be engaged in high risk jobs (OR = 2.20; 1.35–3.58).
Conclusions Results of this prospective study suggest a possible “healthy hire effect” among young people with asthma, although such avoidance might be modulated by the time of diagnosis.
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