Ascertainment of occupational histories in the working population: the occupational history calendar approach

Am J Ind Med. 2011 Jan;54(1):21-31. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20903.


Background: self-reported occupational histories are an important means for collecting historical data in epidemiological studies. An occupational history calendar (OHC) has been developed for use alongside a national occupational hazard surveillance tool. This study presents the systematic development of the OHC and compares work histories collected via this calendar to those collected via a traditional questionnaire.

Methods: the paper describes the systematic development of an OHC for use in the general working population. A comparison of data quality and recall was undertaken in 51 participants where both tools were administered.

Results: the OHC enhanced job recall compared with the traditional questionnaire. Good agreement in the data captured by both tools was observed, with the exception of hazard exposures.

Conclusions: a calendar approach is suitable for collecting occupational histories from the general working population. Despite enhancing job recall the OHC approach has some shortcomings outweighing this advantage in large-scale population surveillance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult