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Australian Work Exposures Study 2 (AWES2): Asthmagens

Study outline

Australian data relating to the prevalence of occupational diseases, including asthma and cancer, are very limited. This means that there is a lack of attention and resources being used to prevent these diseases, although they are ideal candidates for prevention with clear opportunities for policy action.

In order to prevent occupational asthma, we need to first understand how many workers are exposed to the major asthmagens, in which industries the exposures occur, and whether available controls are being used. Investigating the prevalence of exposure is an important first step that must be undertaken prior to any estimation of the burden of occupational disease in Australia. This will have important implications for prevention, as in order to plan prevention programs, we need first to understand the size of the problem.

Who is doing this study?

Researchers in the School of Public Health at Curtin University, in conjunction with the University of Western Australia, Monash University, University of Sydney, and Safe Work Australia, are conducting this study.  The researchers are:

  • Professor Lin Fritschi – Curtin University, Perth
  • Professor Michael Abramson – Monash University, Victoria
  • Associate Professor Tim Driscoll – University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Deborah Glass – Monash University, Victoria
  • Dr Susan Peters – University of Western Australia, Perth
  • Associate Professor Alison Reid – Curtin University, Perth
  • Dr Geza Benke – Monash University, Victoria
  • Dr Renee Carey – Curtin University, Perth
  • Julie Crewe – Curtin University, Perth.

How is the information from this study going to be used?

After the study is completed, results of the research will be summarised in a report.  No individual will be identifiable from this report.  A copy of this report can be made available to you on your request.

We will use the information we gather to work out how many people are exposed to asthmagens in their workplace in Australia.  This information will also help us to prevent or control any

What will I have to do for this study?

We ask you to complete an interview over the telephone with one of our trained interviewers.  We will ask you about your current job and the tasks that you carry out when you do that job.  This should take between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your answers.


What questions will I be asked?

You will be asked some basic questions such as how old you are and what country you were born in.  We will then ask you about your current job and the things you do in that job.


How long will it take?

It usually takes between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your answers. There is a small possibility that we will seek your permission to call you back, but in most cases we won’t be contacting you again once you have completed the questions.


How was I chosen?

Your household was randomly selected from a database of Australian households.  We are phoning around 5000 households from every state and territory across Australia, and the information that you provide us will be combined with the information from all of the other people who answer our questions.


I’m on the Do Not Call Register. How did you get my name?

The Do Not Call Register is there to prevent commercial companies making unwanted calls.  It does not apply to bona fide health research.


Why should I help?

If we know how many people are exposed to things that might cause asthma at work, as well as how they are exposed and what they are exposed to, we can try to prevent or control this exposure and so lower the number of people who are exposed.  In the long term, this may help us to improve the health of workers.


Do I have to do the interview?

No, participation in this survey is entirely voluntary.  You can also skip any questions that you don’t want to answer.


What if I choose to participate and then change my mind?

You can stop answering questions at any point you like.  Participation in this study is completely voluntary.  If you decide to stop participating, you can choose to let us use the information you have provided so far, or for it to be destroyed.  You just need to let the interviewer know. .


How do I know that this information is confidential?

All our interviewers have signed confidentiality agreements not to reveal information about the people that they interview, and public laws ensure that all information that you give is kept confidential.  The information you give us will be combined with information from many other people participating in this study, and will be reported only in statistics and tables without any identifying information.


Will anyone else know I’m taking part in this survey?

We will not inform anybody that you have chosen to participate in this study.


What if I’m busy when you call?

We understand that your time is limited, and we can schedule the interview for any time that is convenient for you, if you prefer.  We’re more than happy to call you back at a more suitable time.  We can also do the survey over two or more phone calls, if you prefer..