Health Effects of Underground Workspaces cohort: study design and baseline characteristics

Gerard Dunleavy*, Thirunavukkarasu Sathish, Nuraini Nazeha, Michael Soljak, Nanthini Visvalingam, Ram Bajpai, Hui Shan Yap, Adam C Roberts, Thuan Quoc Thach, André Comiran Tonon, Chee Kiong Soh, Georgios Christopoulos, Kei Long Cheung, Hein de Vries, Josip Car

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The development of underground workspaces is a strategic effort towards healthy urban growth in cities with ever-increasing land scarcity. Despite the growth in underground workspaces, there is limited information regarding the impact of this environment on workers' health. The Health Effects of Underground Workspaces (HEUW) study is a cohort study that was set up to examine the health effects of working in underground workspaces. In this paper, we describe the rationale for the study, study design, data collection, and baseline characteristics of participants. The HEUW study recruited 464 participants at baseline, of whom 424 (91.4%) were followed-up at 3 months and 334 (72.0%) at 12 months from baseline. We used standardized and validated questionnaires to collect information on socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics, medical history, family history of chronic diseases, sleep quality, health-related quality of life, chronotype, psychological distress, occupational factors, and comfort levels with indoor environmental quality parameters. Clinical and anthropometric parameters including blood pressure, spirometry, height, weight, and waist and hip circumference were also measured. Biochemical tests of participants' blood and urine samples were conducted to measure levels of glucose, lipids, and melatonin. We also conducted objective measurements of individuals' workplace environment, assessing air quality, light intensity, temperature, thermal comfort, and bacterial and fungal counts. The findings this study will help to identify modifiable lifestyle and environmental parameters that are negatively affecting workers' health. The findings may be used to guide the development of more health-promoting workspaces that attempt to negate any potential deleterious health effects from working in underground workspaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019025
Number of pages12
JournalEpidemiology and health
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health/statistics & numerical data
  • Research Design
  • Singapore
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace/statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult
  • Cohort studies
  • Lifestyle
  • Environmental health
  • Workplace

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