Background: Self-reported exposure duration to computer use is widely used in exposure assessment, and this study examined the associated information bias in a repeated measures setting.
Methods: For 3 weeks, 30 undergraduate students reported daily cumulative computer-use duration and musculoskeletal symptoms at four random times per day. Usage-monitor software installed onto participant's personal computers provided the reference measure. We compared daily self-reported and software-recorded duration, and modeled the effect of musculoskeletal symptoms on observed differences.
Results: The relationships between daily self-reported and software-recorded computer-use duration varied greatly across subject with Spearman's correlations ranging from -0.22 to 0.8. Self-reports generally overestimated computer use when software-recorded durations were less than 3.6 hr, and underestimated when above 3.6 hr. Experiencing symptoms was related to a 0.15-hr increase in self-reported duration after controlling for software-recorded duration.
Conclusions: Daily self-reported computer-use duration had a weak-to-moderate correlation with software-recorded duration, and their relationship changed slightly with musculoskeletal symptoms. Self-reports resulted in both non-differential and differential information bias.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.