Objectives: Reliable, valid, and compatible methods are required for exploring the complex interactive effects of psychosocial and physical stressors on complaints and disorders. An instrument for assessing physical work load that integrates information from a biomechanical model of lumbar load is presented and validated.
Methods: Four hundred and fifty-five people working in nursing homes for elderly people in Germany filled out the developed questionnaire 3 times within 1 year. Test-retest reliability was calculated, and validity was checked several times. Relationships with other, theoretically related and unrelated variables were examined.
Results: The test-retest reliability of the questionnaire measures was about 0.65. The convergent and discriminant validity was satisfactory, and the questionnaire was able to separate professional subgroups with different physical work loads. The Spearman rank-order correlations between physical load and musculoskeletal complaints were about 0.30.
Conclusions: The method developed in this study is a reliable and valid instrument for assessing physical work load. The integration of statistical methods from psychological testing and theory in the development of methods exploring the effects of physical work load is advocated.