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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2011 Dec;8(12):746-58. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2011.628607.

Desktop study of occupational exposure judgments: do education and experience influence accuracy?

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Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


This study examines the impact of several experience and education determinants on exposure judgment accuracy. The study used desktop assessments performed on several different tasks with different exposure profiles to identify correlations between determinants and judgment accuracy using logistic regression models. The exposure judgments were elicited from industrial hygienists with varying levels of experience, education, and training. Videos and written and oral information about the exposure tasks were presented to all participants as they documented a series of qualitative and quantitative exposure judgment probabilities in four exposure categories. Participants (n = 77) first documented their qualitative and then their quantitative exposure assessments after receiving the series of sampling data points. Data interpretation tests and training in simple rules-of-thumb for data interpretation were also given to each participant to investigate the impact of data interpretation skills on exposure judgment accuracy. Logistic regression analysis indicated "years of exposure assessment experience" (p < 0.05), "highest EHS degree" (p < 0.05), and a participant's "data interpretation test score" (p < 0.05) directly impacted qualitative exposure judgment accuracy. Logistic regression models of quantitative judgment accuracy showed positive correlation with "greater than 10 years of exposure assessment experience" (p < 0.05), "highest EHS degree" (p < 0.05), a participant's "data interpretation test score" (p < 0.001), rules-of-thumb data interpretation training (p < 0.001), and the number of sample data points available for a judgment (p < 0.005). Analyzing judgments in subsets for participants with less or more than 10 years' experience indicated additional correlations with Certified Industrial Hygienist and Certified Safety Professional certifications, total number of task exposure assessments, and career number of air surveys. The correlation of qualitative and quantitative exposure judgment accuracy with "greater than 10 years experience" supports similar research findings from other fields. The results of this study indicate that several determinants of experience, education, and training, in addition to the availability of sampling data, significantly impact the accuracy of exposure assessments. The findings also suggest methods for enhancing exposure judgment accuracy through statistical tools, mathematical exposure modeling, and specific training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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