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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 18 (2011), Issue 3, Pages 149-153
Original Article

Predictors of Respiratory Symptoms in a Rural Canadian Population: A Longitudinal Study of Respiratory Health

Chandima P Karunanayake,1 Donna C Rennie,1,2 Punam Pahwa,1,3 Yue Chen,4 and James A Dosman1,5

1Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
2College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
3Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
4Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
5Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Predictors of new and long-term respiratory symptoms for rural residents are not well defined.

OBJECTIVE: To identify early predictors of respiratory symptoms in a rural community population.

METHODS: The study population consisted of 871 adults living in the rural community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, who participated in two cross-sectional respiratory studies conducted in 1993 and 2003. Questionnaire information obtained at both time points included respiratory symptoms (cough, phlegm and wheeze), history of allergy, smoking, and information regarding home and farm environments. Transitional modelling, in which measurement in a longitudinal sequence is described as a function of previous outcomes, was used to predict later outcomes of cough, phlegm and wheeze. Asymptomatic individuals in 1993 were assessed to determine factors associated with the development of symptoms during the study period.

RESULTS: The prevalences of cough, phlegm and wheeze in 1993 were 16.1%, 18.1% and 25.5%, respectively. Change in symptoms over time was significant for cough, phlegm and wheeze. The adjusted ORs (95% CI) from separate transitional models for each respiratory outcome in 1993 that predicted the same symptom in 2003 were 6.32 (4.02 to 9.95) for cough, 14.36 (9.01 to 22.89) for phlegm and 6.40 (4.40 to 9.32) for wheeze. For asymptomatic individuals in 1993, home dampness, allergic reaction to inhaled allergens and cigarette smoking were major risk factors associated with respiratory symptoms that were reported in 2003.

CONCLUSION: The presence of previous respiratory symptoms, allergies and environmental exposures can predict the occurrence of future respiratory symptoms in adults.