Effects of a closed office environment on the risk of Sick Building Syndrome in a medical city in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Findings from a cross-sectional study
Keywords:Sick buildings, Sick building syndrome, Indoor air quality, air quality, Closed buildings
Background: Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a state of discomfort and irritation in several body systems which affects employees in a closed office work environment. It has a 30% reported prevalence worldwide. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of Sick Building Syndrome and its associated symptoms. In addition, it also aimed to investigate the association between closed offices environment and the risk of Sick Building Syndrome as well as identifying its associated risk factors and its correlation to buildings in the Medical City in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted using a self-constructed questionnaire for data collection among office workers in four different buildings during the year 2018. Convenient random sampling was then used to select study subjects for the study.
Results: A total of 373 subjects participated in the study. SBS prevalence among office workers was found to be 20%. The study found that being female (OR 2.80; [95%CI: 1.61-4.84]), higher stress level (OR 2.885; [95%CI: 1.001-8.32]), allergies (OR 2.25; 95%CI: 1.32-3.85]), temperature fluctuations (OR 1.84; [95%CI 1.04-3.26]), noises (OR 1.83; [95%CI: 1.09-3.06]), and a cumulative exposure level to office conditions (OR 2.48; [95%CI: 1.47-4.16 ]) increased the likelihood of SBS. Four out of six SBS symptoms were reported in more than a quarter of the employees, while five symptoms were significantly associated with building types. Age and the number of years working in the same building or office were found to be protective factors (OR 0.64, OR 0.69, OR 0.75) respectively.
Conclusion: The high prevalence of SBS among office workers should attract attention to the existence of "sick buildings" in Saudi Arabia. Awareness and preventive measures should be adopted by the responsible entities of these "sick buildings" to reduce the health effects of SBS among office workers.
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