Comparison of self-reported occupational exposure with a job exposure matrix in an international community-based study on asthma

Am J Ind Med. 2005 May;47(5):434-42. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20154.


Background: Self-reports are frequently used to assess occupational exposures in epidemiological studies on asthma, but the validity and influence of asthma status on performance is unclear.

Methods: Data on self-reported exposure to air pollutants were obtained for 16,752 randomly selected working individuals from 40 study centers, and compared to exposures obtained by a job exposure matrix (JEM). The influence of current asthma symptoms or medication was investigated.

Results: Specificity of self-reports amounted to 0.83 and 0.87, and sensitivity 0.48 and 0.42 for asthmatics and non-asthmatics, respectively, when compared with the JEM. Self-reported exposure, but not exposure assessed by the JEM, was more prevalent in areas with a higher community prevalence of asthma.

Conclusions: The prevalence of self-reported occupational exposures seems to depend on asthmatic health status at both the individual and the community level. Associations between self-reports and asthma are likely to be biased, especially in pooled analyses combining different areas with varying prevalence rates of asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bias
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupations / classification
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants