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Latex glove use among healthcare workers in Australia

Published:April 17, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2018.03.011

      Highlights

      • Latex gloves were used by 22% of Australian workers.
      • Occupations with the highest use of latex gloves included carers and hairdressers.
      • 63% of healthcare workers used latex gloves, and 26% wore powdered latex gloves.
      • Latex gloves were more commonly used by healthcare workers in micro companies.
      • Latex exposure in healthcare workers contributed 3% of the asthma-related burden.

      Background

      Exposure to natural rubber latex, primarily through the use of gloves, is a well-recognized cause of occupational asthma. We investigated latex glove use among Australian workers and estimated the resultant burden of occupational asthma among healthcare workers (HCWs).

      Methods

      Data were collected in 2014 as part of the Australian Work Exposures Study-Asthma, a telephone survey investigating the prevalence of current occupational exposure to asthmagens, including latex. We estimated adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) to determine variables associated with the use of latex gloves among HCWs and calculated the asthma-related disability-adjusted life years due to latex exposure among HCWs.

      Results

      Latex gloves were used by 22% of respondents. Almost two-thirds (63%) of HCWs reported wearing latex gloves, with 26% using powdered latex gloves. The use of latex gloves was more common among those employed in micro companies (less than 5 employees) than large companies (200+ employees) (aPR = 1.5, 95% confidence interval 1.1-2.0). Latex exposure in HCWs was estimated to contribute 3% of the total asthma-related burden.

      Discussion

      Latex gloves are widely used by Australian workers and by HCWs in particular.

      Conclusions

      This is the first estimate of the burden of asthma attributable to occupational exposure to latex among HCWs. These results can be used to guide decisions regarding the control of occupational exposure to latex.

      Key Words

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