Validity of a self-completed questionnaire measuring the physical demands of work

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1998 Oct;24(5):376-85. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.358.


Objectives: This study determined the accuracy of workers in quantifying occupational physical demands on a self-administered questionnaire.

Methods: First, a self-administered questionnaire on work postures, manual materials-handling, and repetitive upper-limb movements was validated using direct simultaneous observations for 123 randomly selected employees from 6 occupational settings. Second, weight estimation accuracy was assessed on visual analogue scales for 6 manual materials-handling activities using 20 randomly selected employees from 1 occupational setting.

Results: At a dichotomous level (ever-never), the accuracy of most of the self-reported physical demands was good (sensitivity 60-100%; specificity 56-100%). A more-detailed analysis of the dimensions studied (frequency, duration and amplitude) also showed that the accuracy of the self-reported estimates was satisfactory. Full agreement between the estimated and observed frequency was >60% for most of the manual materials-handling activities. In addition the average difference between the estimated and observed duration of the physical demands was found to be small. Finally the average difference between the self-reported and actual weights of various loads was found to be modest.

Conclusions: The self-reported questionnaire used in this study would provide a useful instrument for estimating occupational physical demands and the frequency, duration, and amplitude of these demands in future epidemiologic studies associated with musculoskeletal pain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ergometry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lifting
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Occupations*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Random Allocation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United Kingdom
  • Workload