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.