Assessing agreement of self-reported and observed physical exposures of the upper extremity

Int J Occup Environ Health. Jan-Mar 2010;16(1):1-10. doi: 10.1179/107735210800546227.


Assessment of workplace physical exposures by self-reported questionnaires has logistical advantages in population studies, but is subject to exposure misclassification. This study measured agreement between eight self-reported and observer-rated physical exposures to the hands and wrists, and evaluated predictors of intermethod agreement. Workers (n = 341) from three occupational categories (clerical/technical, construction, and service) completed self-administered questionnaires and worksite assessments. Analyses compared self-reported and observed ratings using a weighted kappa coefficient. Personal and psychosocial factors, presence of upper extremity symptoms, andjob type were evaluated as predictors of agreement. Weighted kappa values were substantial for lifting (0.67) and holding vibrating tools (0.61), moderate for forceful grip (0.58), and fair to poor for all other exposures. Upper extremity symptoms did not predict greater disagreement between self-reported and observed exposures. Occupational category was the only significant predictor of inter-method agreement. Self-reported exposures may provide a useful estimate of some work exposures for population studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Lifting / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*
  • Vibration / adverse effects