Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Employment Among Massachusetts Adults

Kathleen Fitzsimmons, PhD; Elise Pechter, MPH; Emily Sparer-Fine, ScD


Prev Chronic Dis. 2020;17(11):e144 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Occupational exposure may cause or exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but employment may also enhance health and well-being for people with the disorder. We used self-reported data from the 2011–2017 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine COPD and employment among adults aged 40 to 70. Thirty-nine percent of adults with COPD were employed. Workers with COPD were more likely than those without COPD to report indicators of poor physical and mental health, and distribution by occupation differed between the 2 groups. Findings suggest workplace interventions may be needed to prevent respiratory exposures and enhance support for employees with COPD.