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Reliability of job-title based physical work exposures for the upper extremity: comparison to self-reported and observed exposure estimates
  1. Bethany T Gardner1,
  2. David A Lombardi2,
  3. Ann Marie Dale3,
  4. Alfred Franzblau4,
  5. Bradley A Evanoff3
  1. 1Washington University School of Medicine, Program in Occupational Therapy, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
  2. 2Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Center for Injury Epidemiology, Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Washington University School of Medicine, Division of General Medical Sciences, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
  4. 4University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Science, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  1. Correspondence to Bradley A Evanoff, Washington University School of Medicine, Division of General Medical Sciences, Campus Box 8005, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA; bevanoff{at}


Objectives To evaluate the agreement between job-title based estimates for upper extremity physical work exposures and exposure estimates from work observation and worker self-report.

Methods Self-reported exposure questionnaires were completed by 972 workers, and exposure estimates based on worksite observation were completed for a subset of 396 workers. Job-title based estimates were obtained from O*NET, an American database of job demands. Agreement between self-reported, observed and job-title based physical work exposures was assessed using Spearman correlations and intraclass correlation coefficients.

Results Job-title based exposure estimates from O*NET, self-reported and observer-rated exposures showed moderate to good levels of agreement for some upper extremity exposures, including lifting, forceful grip, use of vibrating tools and wrist bending.

Conclusions Job-title based physical work exposure variables may provide useful surrogate measures of upper extremity exposure data in the absence of other individual level data such as observed or self-reported exposure. Further validation of these data is necessary to determine the utility of the O*NET databases in future epidemiological studies.

  • O*NET
  • exposure assessment
  • upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders
  • reliability
  • epidemiology
  • ergonomics

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  • Funding This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH grant # R01OH008017-01) and by the ASSE Foundation through the Liberty Mutual Research Fellowship Program at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton, MA.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Boards of Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri, and the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.