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Work. 2010;36(2):157-66. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2010-1017.

Actual versus perceived lifting ability in healthy young men (18-25 years).

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Occupational Therapy, School of Health & Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Tweed Heads, NSW, Australia.



Men under 25 years are at high risk of back injuries caused by manual handling. Self reports and functional capacity evaluations are commonly used to determine a worker's lifting capacity, however, amongst uninjured individuals, conflicting views exist regarding how perceived physical functioning matches actual functioning in the absence of fear of pain and/or re-injury. The aim of this study was to compare self-reports and actual lifting performance in a group of healthy young men aged 18-25 years. METHOD/PARTICIPANTS: A correlational prospective design compared perceived lifting capacity, using self-report and the Spinal Function Sort, and actual lifting capacity, using the EPIC Lift Capacity test in 31 subjects.


Subjects' self-reported lifting capacity varied more widely than their actual scores, indicating that they were less accurate at predicting their lifting performance using the self-report measure. One third of subjects were able to accurately self-report their lifting performance, approximately one-third underestimated, and the remaining third overestimated their lifting ability. Only two significant relationships were identified between self-reported and actual lifting performance for frequent knuckle-shoulder and floor-shoulder lifts. These correlations were weak and well below the 0.75 level considered necessary to be clinically significant.


This study found that self-report measures are not suitable when used in isolation. It is therefore recommended that self-report measures are used in conjunction with functional capacity evaluations to determine lifting capacity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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