Validation of expert assessment of occupational exposures

Am J Ind Med. 2003 May;43(5):519-22. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10208.


Background: Assessment by experts may be the best method available for retrospective occupational exposure measurement in community-based studies. This study was undertaken to examine the validity of occupational exposure assessment by comparing the ratings of experienced raters with previously recorded industrial hygiene measurements.

Methods: We obtained 50 measurements from industrial hygiene records, covering a variety of jobs and substances and created 47 job descriptions around these measurements. Three raters were asked to assess exposure to a checklist of 19 substances (including those substances which had been measured). We estimated the sensitivity of the raters in correctly detecting those substances known to have been present.

Results: Using a liberal criterion for the ratings, the average sensitivity among the raters was 90%. Using a more stringent criterion, the average sensitivity was 73%. Among substances coded as present, the raters were quite accurate in rating the relative concentration and frequency of exposure.

Conclusions: This trial demonstrated that a team of experienced raters could successfully characterize jobs in which important exposures occurred.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / complications
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational