BACKGROUND: Numerous studies report a protective effect of farming against allergic diseases. Some specific underlying exposures contributing to this effect have recently been described in the GABRIEL survey. So far, psycho-social factors have not been included in these analyses.
METHODS: In order to assess the potential influence of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) on the protective effect of farming, 8259 school aged children from the European GABRIEL study answered questions concerning farming and allergic diseases, as well as validated questions about HRQOL.
RESULTS: Farm children reported higher HRQOL than non farm children. However, HRQOL did not modify the protective effect of farming against allergies. Children with allergic diseases reported significantly lower HRQOL scores suggesting that the higher HRQOL of farm children was in part explained by the lower prevalence of these diseases among farm children.
CONCLUSION: Although farm children reported higher HRQOL scores than did non-farm children, HRQOL did not explain the protective effect of farming against allergic diseases. The relationship between allergic diseases and HRQOL is likely bidirectional and needs to be assessed prospectively.