Objectives: A cross-sectional study to evaluate the occupational risk for Helicobacter pylori infection, on top of other risk factors, in staff members of institutions for people with intellectual disability. In these institutions, the residents had a documented high prevalence of H pylori infection (86% presenting antibodies). As a control group, the study used administrative workers from other companies.
Methods: All participants completed a questionnaire concerning sociodemographic characteristics, medical history and employment data and they underwent a serology test.
Results: 671 staff members of the institutions and 439 subjects in the control group participated in the study. Prevalence of H pylori antibodies was significantly higher in the study group than in the control group (40.6% vs 29.2%; p<0.001). Crude odds ratio for occupational risk was 1.68; adjusting for the confounding effect of age, gender, body mass index, smoking, tropical journeys and number of household members during childhood resulted in an even higher (adjusted) OR of 1.98 (95% CI 1.42 to 2.69). In multiple logistic regression analysis adjusting for variables shown to be confounders, faecal contact continued to be significantly associated with H pylori infection. Attributable risk was 49.5%.
Conclusions: H pylori infection is an occupational risk in healthcare workers working in institutions for people with intellectual disability. We identified faecal contact as an independent occupational risk factor for H pylori infection.
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Funding: This study was supported financially by a grant from the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO), Belgium.
Competing interests: None declared.