Digestive Functional Symptoms among Ground Employees in an Airline Company in Relation to Diet, Insomnia and Lifestyle Factors

  •  Motoko Takaoka    
  •  Torsten Lindgren    
  •  Hakan Lundgren    
  •  Dan Norback    


PURPOSE: There are some epidemiological studies on pilots and cabin staff, but we found few health studies on aviation ground employees. The aim was to study associations between digestive symptoms in airline ground employees and diet, insomnia and lifestyle factors.

METHODS: A standardized questionnaire was mailed to all Stockholm ground employees in a Scandinavian airline company, 201 service agents (ticketing and gate service) and 564 office workers from the same company participated. Associations were analysed by multiple logistic regression.

RESULTS: Of the service agents, 13.8% reported poor appetite, 17.5%% heartburn, 14.1%, diarrhea, 51.7% bloating, 18.8% constipation and 15.40% epigastralgia. Service agents reported more bloating (OR=1.56; p<0.01), and poor appetite (OR=2.33; p<0.01) than office workers. The prevalence of insomnia was 77.7% among service agents and 63.1% among office workers (p<0.001). In service agents, insomnia was related to poor appetite (OR=2.49; p<0.01), heartburn (OR=2.14; p<0.01), diarrhea (OR=3.62; p<0.001) bloating (OR=1.62; p<0.01), constipation (OR=2.74; p<0.01) and epigastralgia (OR=3.44; p<0.001). In office workers, there were no associations between insomnia and digestive symptoms. In the total material of ground employees (N=765), higher body mass index (BMI) was related to diarrhea and females suffered from more constipation and epigastralgia. Older age was related to heartburn and bloating. Smoking was related to poor appetite, more heartburn and epigastralgia and less constipation. The number of years employed at the airline company was negatively associated with heartburn, diarrhea and bloating. Frequent fast food consumption was associated with more bloating and heartburn. Frequent vegetables consumption was associated with less heartburn.

CONCLUSION: Insomnia and digestive symptoms were more common among service agents than office workers in the same airline company, possible partly due to stress. Besides insomnia, BMI, smoking, female gender, age, and diet were associated with digestive symptoms.

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