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Scand J Work Environ Health. 1998 Oct;24(5):376-85.

Validity of a self-completed questionnaire measuring the physical demands of work.

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Arthritis Research Campaign Epidemiology Research Unit, School of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom.



This study determined the accuracy of workers in quantifying occupational physical demands on a self-administered questionnaire.


First, a self-administered questionnaire on work postures, manual materials-handling, and repetitive upper-limb movements was validated using direct simultaneous observations for 123 randomly selected employees from 6 occupational settings. Second, weight estimation accuracy was assessed on visual analogue scales for 6 manual materials-handling activities using 20 randomly selected employees from 1 occupational setting.


At a dichotomous level (ever-never), the accuracy of most of the self-reported physical demands was good (sensitivity 60-100%; specificity 56-100%). A more-detailed analysis of the dimensions studied (frequency, duration and amplitude) also showed that the accuracy of the self-reported estimates was satisfactory. Full agreement between the estimated and observed frequency was >60% for most of the manual materials-handling activities. In addition the average difference between the estimated and observed duration of the physical demands was found to be small. Finally the average difference between the self-reported and actual weights of various loads was found to be modest.


The self-reported questionnaire used in this study would provide a useful instrument for estimating occupational physical demands and the frequency, duration, and amplitude of these demands in future epidemiologic studies associated with musculoskeletal pain.

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