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Background: Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a group of symptoms relatively common among office workers; such symptoms could have an impact on the workers' productivity. The aim of this study is to measure the prevalence of SBS symptoms among office workers in the Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt, and to determine the possible risk factors.

Participants and methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out at the Ain Shams Faculty of Medicine including 826 workers. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire that included sociodemographic and occupational histories, work environment, and symptoms related to SBS.

Results: Fatigue and headache were the most prevalent symptoms (76.9 and 74.7%, respectively). Using univariate analysis, poor lighting, poor ventilation, lack of sunlight, absence of air currents, high noise, temperature, humidity, environmental tobacco smoke, use of photocopiers, and inadequate office cleaning were associated statistically with SBS symptoms (P<0.05). High work load and poor job satisfaction were also associated significantly with SBS symptoms (P<0.05). Logistic regression analysis showed that poor ventilation, poor lighting, environmental tobacco smoke, high temperature, poor job satisfaction, and inadequate office cleaning were the risk factors of SBS.

Conclusion and recommendations: SBS was highly prevalent among office workers and was influenced by physical and psychosocial working conditions. Good ventilation, reducing room temperature, effective cleaning routines, providing proper lighting, restricting smoking in the workplace, and improving psychosocial working conditions are important ways to reduce SBS symptoms.

(C) 2013 Egyptian Public Health Association