A Comparative Study of Respiratory Quality of Life among Firefighters, Traffic Police and Other Occupations in Malaysia

Kooi Yau Chean, Surajudeen Abdulrahman, Mei-Wai Chan, Kean-Chye Tan


Background: Despite its excellent psychometric properties, St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) has not been previously used in measuring respiratory quality of life (RQoL) among traffic police and firefighters who are at risk of poor respiratory health by virtue of their occupations.

Objective: To assess and compare the RQoL of the occupationally exposed (firefighters and traffic police) and the occupationally unexposed populations in Penang, Malaysia.

Methods: We recruited male traffic police and firefighters from 5 districts of Penang by convenient sampling during June to September 2018. Participants completed the SGRQ. Scores (symptoms, activity, impacts, total) were derived using a scoring calculator. Higher scores indicate poorer RQoL. Univariate and multivariate linear regression models were fitted to explore the relationship of the independent predictive factors with participants' RQoL.

Results: We recruited 706 participants—211 firefighters, 198 traffic police, and 297 from general population. Smokers had significantly higher scores than non-smokers in all SGRQ domains. Regardless of smoking status, the “occupationally exposed group” had higher symptoms score than the “occupationally unexposed group,” who had higher activity and impact scores. Smoking status, comorbidity status and monthly income were significant independent predictors of SGRQ total score.

Conclusion: In comparison with the general population, firefighters and traffic police reported poorer RQoL; smoking further deteriorated their respiratory health. There is a need to strengthen preventive health measures against occupational disease and smoking cessation among firefighters and traffic police.


Firefighters; Police; Malaysia; Occupational exposures; Smoking; Respiratory system; Quality of life; Health promotion

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2019.1657

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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