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Case Study of a Sick Building
CITATION:  Thorn, A.  (2000). Case Study of a Sick Building.  Could an Integrated Biopsychosocial Perspective Prevent Chronicity?  Euro J Pub Hlth. 10, 2 pg 133.


Background: The research on sick building syndrome (SBS) is dominated by quantitative methodology, which focuses preventive and corrective strategies and actions on indoor air and the building as a purely physical structure. However, in a number of buildings, SBS is not resolved despite ambitious actions directed towards encountered presumed physical causes. 

Methods: Based on historical documents and semi-structured interviews, this paper is a qualitative study of an office with long-standing, building-related health problems. Results: A state of reduced credibility developed between building owner, employees and employer and was an important reason why symptoms persisted after suspected causative defects in the building were corrected. This suggests that, in SBS, symptoms are influenced by interactions between biomedical and psychosocial factors. 

Conclusions: Failure to plan and ad from an integrated biopsychosocial perspective might lead to a building becoming chronically sick in spite of rational corrective measures. Case studies might facilitate the identification and understanding of complex social dynamics and conflicting agendas within buildings and, therefore, be a valuable complementary study approach to quantitative studies.


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