Disclosures: Xie reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
November 01, 2021
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Long-term employment in operating room linked with increased risk for COPD in female nurses

Disclosures: Xie reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Female nurses who worked in the operating rooms for 15 years or more had an increased risk for developing COPD compared with nurses who never worked in an OR, according to data published in JAMA Network Open.

“One of the inherent challenges with assessing the health risks of disinfectants and surgical smoke is that it is difficult to measure exposure with precision over an extended period of time and among a large population,” Wubin Xie, DrPH, postdoctoral associate in the department of global health at Boston University School of Public Health, said in a related press release. “Our results, based on data from a large cohort of nurses, show that long-time occupational exposure to these agents in operating rooms leads to a significantly higher risk of developing COPD.”

surgery in an operating room
Source: Adobe Stock.

Researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study and identified 75,011 U.S. female registered nurses (mean age, 50.5 years) who provided details on operating room employment history in 1984 and job type in 1982. All participants had no history of COPD at baseline.

The primary outcome was the association of employment in the operating room, duration of employment, and duration and job type with the incidence of self-reported and physician-diagnosed COPD.

Twenty-nine percent of nurses reported a history of working in an operating room; of those, 3% worked in an operating room for 15 years or more.

Long-term operating room employment of 15 years or more was associated with a 46% increase in the risk for COPD development compared with nurses with no operating room employment history (HR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.1-1.93).

Risk for developing COPD was greater among nurses who provided outpatient care (HR = 1.24; 95% CI, 1.04-1.47) and those employed in inpatient units (HR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.07-1.59) without operating room employment history and risk was 69% greater among nurses who reported working in an operating room for 15 years or more (HR = 1.69; 95% CI, 1.25-2.28), compared with nurses who never worked in an operating room and had administrative or nursing education function or a non-nursing job at baseline in 1982.

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