Join our sensor study!

As researchers, we are constantly thinking of new ways to gather real-time data to help illuminate how the working environment affects the health of flight attendants.

With today’s availability of wearable technology, we are able to take a more hands-on approach to monitor health symptoms in relation to flight. This means that we are aiming to measure participants’ real-time flight experience using wearable sensors, such as Apple watches, in conjunction with a mobile FlightHealth app.

Specifically, we are developing an app, to be released in February, that we will distribute along with wearable sensors to a small subset of Flight Attendant Health Study participants. The app will also be available for free on our website for any interested flight attendant, pilot, former crew member, or passenger with an iPhone and any series of Apple watch. For people downloading the app from our website, optional sensors include a Spire monitor to measure respiration, an iHealth Air pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygenation, and a ResMed S+ sleep monitor to measure sleep quality during layovers.

Our hope is that this research will shed light on subtle, difficult to detect flight-related changes in health markers, sleep, and mood that could in turn potentially increase the risk of adverse health outcomes. Our goal is to leverage our initial findings to distribute the full sensor package to as many flight attendants as possible in future research efforts!

Feel free to spread the word to your friends, co-workers, and union. The more people who volunteer, the greater impact we can make on the flight attendant community and the availability of scientific knowledge for all flight crew and passengers.

Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study

Qigong can help alleviate a cluster of symptoms related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Effectiveness of a Novel Qigong Meditative Movement Practice for Impaired Health in Flight Attendants Exposed to Second-Hand Cigarette Smoke

This single-arm non-randomized pilot study explores an intervention to improve the health of flight attendants (FA) exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke prior to the smoking ban on commercial airlines. This group exhibits an unusual pattern of long-term pulmonary dysfunction. We report on Phase I of a two-phase clinical trial; the second Phase will be a randomized controlled trial testing digital delivery of the intervention. Subjects were recruited in the Northeastern US; testing and intervention were administered in 4 major cities. The intervention involved 12 h of training in Meditative Movement practices. Based on recent research on the effects of nicotine on fear learning, and the influence of the autonomic nervous system on immune function, our hypothesis was that this training would improve autonomic function and thus benefit a range of health measures. Primary outcomes were the 6-min walk test and blood levels of C-reactive protein. Pulmonary, cardiovascular, autonomic, and affective measures were also taken. Fourteen participants completed the training and post-testing. There was a 53% decrease in high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (p ? 0.05), a 7% reduction in systolic blood pressure (p ? 0.05), a 13% increase in the 6-min walk test (p ? 0.005), and significant positive changes in several other outcomes. These results tend to confirm the hypothesized benefits of MM training for this population, and indicate that autonomic function may be important in the etiology and treatment of their symptoms. No adverse effects were reported. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov and is supported by a grant from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI).
<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318411/pdf/fnhum-11-00067.pdf>

The Relevance of Emotional Intelligence in Personnel Selection for High Emotional Labor Jobs

Although a large number of studies have pointed to the potential of emotional intelligence (EI) in the context of personnel selection, research in real-life selection contexts is still scarce. The aim of the present study was to examine whether EI would predict Assessment Center (AC) ratings of job-relevant competencies in a sample of applicants for the position of a flight attendant. Applicants’ ability to regulate emotions predicted performance in group exercises. However, there were inconsistent effects of applicants’ ability to understand emotions: Whereas the ability to understand emotions had a positive effect on performance in interview and role play, the effect on performance in group exercises was negative. We suppose that the effect depends on task type and conclude that tests of emotional abilities should be used judiciously in personnel selection procedures.

Clear Skies and Grey Areas: Flight Attendants’ Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Attitudes toward Smoke-Free Policy 25 Years since Smoking was Banned on Airplanes

Our objective was to provide descriptive data on flight attendant secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the work environment, and to examine attitudes toward SHS exposure, personal health, and smoke-free policy in the workplace and public places. Flight attendants completed a web-based survey of self-reported SHS exposure and air quality in the work environment. We assessed the frequency and duration of SHS exposure in distinct areas of the workplace, attitudes toward SHS exposure and its health effects, and attitudes toward smoke-free policy in the workplace as well as general public places. A total of 723 flight attendants participated in the survey, and 591 responded to all survey questions. The mean level of exposure per flight attendant over the past month was 249 min. The majority of participants reported being exposed to SHS always/often in outdoor areas of an airport (57.7%). Participants who worked before the in-flight smoking ban (n=240) were more likely to support further smoking policies in airports compared to participants who were employed after the ban (n=346) (76.7% versus 60.4%, p-value<0.01). Flight attendants are still being exposed to SHS in the workplace, sometimes at concerning levels during the non-flight portions of their travel. Flight attendants favor smoke-free policies and want to see further restrictions in airports and public places.

QIGONG

Flight Attendant Lung Study

Can Qigong Practice Improve Respiratory Health for Former or Current Flight Attendants?

Call to learn more: 1-603-653-9972

Qigong (an ancient form of meditative movement practice) includes specific meditative movement techniques that have been used traditionally to improve the quality of life and well being of individuals with respiratory disorders.

  • A research study is being conducted to determine which qigong breathing practices are most effective in changing measures of respiratory health within the flight attendant (FA) population. The study also seeks to determine which qigong techniques FA will do on a regular basis.
  • This is a study that will involve former and current FA who flew during the era when smoking was allowed in the cabins of aircraft. Both healthy FA and those who have developed respiratory disorders, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, are invited to apply.
  • Study locations will be arranged to coordinate with qualified FA volunteers.
  • This research is being conducted by Peter Payne, SEP, who has taught Qigong for more than 40 years and Mardi Crane-Godreau, Ph.D. Both are from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. Dr. Crane-Godreau is a former Pan Am FA who studies the causes and treatment of respiratory disease associated with cigarette smoke exposure.
  • Involvement in the study is voluntary. The information collected will be maintained and analyzed anonymously. There are no costs to participate. Participants will have an option to receive results from analysis of the tests and samples collected.
  • To receive an information sheet that more fully describes this research or to ask questions about this project contact:

Payne and Crane-GodreauAt no cost to participants. We are setting up appointments in Burlington, VT, Boston, MA, and NY City in March and April.

Peter Payne, SEP, Q.T.
Mardi Crane-Godreau, Ph.D.
Ingrid Svensborn, R.N.
Geisel School of Medicine
1 Medical Center Drive
HB 7936
Lebanon, NH 03756
1-603-653-9972

Peter.Payne@Dartmouth.EDU
Mardi.Crane@Dartmouth.EDU
Ingrid.A.Svensborn@Hitchcock.org

Seeking: Flight Attendants willing to participate in a vitamin D screening study

Dr. Mardi Crane-Godreau is seeking volunteers of former and current flight attendants to participate in respiratory and vitamin D screening studies.

  • Screenings available in the Boston and NYC area.
  • We need volunteers who suspect, or have been diagnosed with respiratory disease as well as healthy volunteers.
  • There are no age limits.
  • If you flew for at least 5 years prior to 1992, and would be willing to participate in this important study, please email: Margaret.A.Crane@Dartmouth.EDU or call (603) 653-9970 and leave a message with your name, email address and phone number.

Thank you in advance for your contribution of time and energy in support of improving human health world wide.

Mardi Crane-Godreau, PhD
Assistant Professor
Dept of Microbiology and Immunology
Geisel School of Medicine
1 Medical Center Drive
HB 7936
Lebanon, NH 03756
603-653-9970
Norris Cotton Cancer Center Investigator
Somatic Experiencing Trauma Inst. Board

Flying the smoky skies: secondhand smoke exposure of flight attendants

J. Repace.
Tobacco Control 2004;13;i8-i19

Download the publication: FA smoking lit

Flight attendants reported suffering greatly from SHS pollution on aircraft. Both government and airline sponsored studies concluded that SHS created an air pollution problem in aircraft cabins, while tobacco industry sponsored studies yielding similar data concluded that ventilation controlled SHS, and that SHS pollution levels were low. Between the time that non-smoking sections were established on US carriers in 1973, and the two hour US smoking ban in 1988, commercial aircraft ventilation rates had declined three times as fast as smoking prevalence. The aircraft cabin provided the least volume and lowest ventilation rate per smoker of any social venue, including stand up bars and smoking lounges, and afforded an abnormal respiratory environment. Personal monitors showed little difference in SHS exposures between flight attendants assigned to smoking sections and those assigned to non-smoking sections of aircraft cabins.

Conclusions: In-flight air quality measurements in ,250 aircraft, generalised by models, indicate that when smoking was permitted aloft, 95% of the harmful respirable suspended particle (RSP) air pollution in the smoking sections and 85% of that in the non-smoking sections of aircraft cabins was caused by SHS. Typical levels of SHS-RSP on aircraft violated current (PM2.5) federal air quality standards ,threefold for flight attendants, and exceeded SHS irritation thresholds by 10 to 100 times. From cotinine dosimetry, SHS exposure of typical flight attendants in aircraft cabins is estimated to have been .6-fold that of the average US worker and ,14-fold that of the average person. Thus, ventilation systems massively failed to control SHS air pollution in aircraft cabins. These results have implications for studies of the past and future health of flight attendants.

2007 Flight Attendant Health Study Results

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health conducted a landmark study in 2007 on this subject, and follow-up today is needed to understand trends in flight attendant health over time.

  • Over 4,000 flight attendants participated in the first study. Help us exceed this number.
  • The prevalence of respiratory disease amongst Flight Attendants was approximately three times that found in the general U.S. population.
  • In addition, sleep disorders, fatigue, depression and heart disease were greatly increased in female Flight Attendants compared to the U.S. population.
  • Release of the FAA Report (Coming Soon!)  Read our presentation at the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology conference, Barcelona, Spain 2011

Take me to the journal article online

Download pdf: Air Transportation and Flight Attendant Health

Join the current updated Flight Attendant Health Study