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Occup Environ Med. 2010 Aug;67(8):538-47. doi: 10.1136/oem.2008.044339. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

Reliability of job-title based physical work exposures for the upper extremity: comparison to self-reported and observed exposure estimates.

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  • 1Washington University School of Medicine, Division of General Medical Sciences, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.



To evaluate the agreement between job-title based estimates for upper extremity physical work exposures and exposure estimates from work observation and worker self-report.


Self-reported exposure questionnaires were completed by 972 workers, and exposure estimates based on worksite observation were completed for a subset of 396 workers. Job-title based estimates were obtained from O*NET, an American database of job demands. Agreement between self-reported, observed and job-title based physical work exposures was assessed using Spearman correlations and intraclass correlation coefficients.


Job-title based exposure estimates from O*NET, self-reported and observer-rated exposures showed moderate to good levels of agreement for some upper extremity exposures, including lifting, forceful grip, use of vibrating tools and wrist bending.


Job-title based physical work exposure variables may provide useful surrogate measures of upper extremity exposure data in the absence of other individual level data such as observed or self-reported exposure. Further validation of these data is necessary to determine the utility of the O*NET databases in future epidemiological studies.

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