Community based case–control studies are an efficient means to study disease aetiologies, and may be the only practical means to investigate rare diseases. However, exposure assessment remains problematic. We review the literature on the validity and reliability of common case–control exposure assessment methods: occupational histories, job–exposure matrices (JEMs), self reported exposures, and expert assessments. Given the variable quality of current exposure assessment techniques, we suggest methods to improve assessments, including the incorporation of hygiene measurements: using data from administrative exposure databases; using results of studies identifying determinants of exposure to develop questionnaires; and where reasonable given latency and biological half life considerations, directly measuring exposures of study subjects.
- case-control studies
- occupational exposure
- reproducibility of results
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