Participants in the study worked at Umeå University Hospital, Sweden. They were recruited from personnel with suspected BRS referred to the occupational health care clinic. Individuals that had symptoms that were judged to be due to the indoor environment by a physician were asked to participate.

If they agreed, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire that included questions pertaining to demographics and physician-based diagnoses. The questionnaire also included questions on symptoms related to BRS, categorized as general symptoms (headache, concentration difficulties, tiredness, heavy-headedness), mucous membrane symptoms (cough, throat irritation/hoarseness, nasal congestion/discharge, excessive mucous production, nasal mucosa irritation/dryness, eye irritation, dry eyes) and skin symptoms (facial itching/stinging/tightness/heat, facial redness, dry facial skin, body itching). These symptoms have been listed by the World Health organization to be of importance for building-related health issues (1983) and have been used in earlier studies to identify cases with building-related intolerance (Edvardsson et al. 2008; Glas et al. 2015). The symptoms were rated on a scale including the following alternatives “yes, every week”, “Yes, sometimes” and “No, never”. The reported skin symptoms were then used to identify two groups, one with skin symptoms, were individuals that reported to have skin symptoms often or sometimes were included, and a group with no symptoms were participants reporting no skin symptoms were included (n = 14).

Besides the medical examination, to be included in the study the participants had to report to have at least one symptom from either skin or from the mucous membranes often (“yes every week”). They also had to answer yes to the question “Do you think that you have or have had problems/symptoms caused by poor indoor environment in your workplace?” (e.g. self-reported BRS). Further, in order to be included, they should not be on sick leave. Other exclusion criteria were smoking, pregnancy, cancer treatment or change of working place after the visit at the occupational health care clinic.

The study was performed between November 2015–June 2016 and October 2016–March 2017.

There was a group of participants that had been medically examined about 1 year earlier (December 2014–April 2015) and they were invited to participate in the study. These were 42 (former patients) and the number of participants recruited during the study period was 23 (new patients). In total, 65 people were included in the study, 12 men and 53 women between 24 and 66 years old, with a mean age of 45.5 (± 10.9) years.

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