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Comparison of exposure estimates in the Finnish job-exposure matrix FINJEM with a JEM derived from expert assessments performed in Montreal
  1. Jérôme Lavoué1,
  2. Javier Pintos1,
  3. Martie Van Tongeren2,
  4. Laurel Kincl3,4,
  5. Lesley Richardson1,
  6. T Kauppinen5,
  7. Elisabeth Cardis4,
  8. Jack Siemiatycki1
  1. 1University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM), Montréal, Canada
  2. 2Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Oregon State University, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  4. 4Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Hospital del Mar Research Institute (IMIM), CIBER Epidemiologia y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain
  5. 5Department of Occupational Health, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jérôme Lavoué, Centre de recherche du CHUM, 3875 rue st urbain, 3ieme étage, bureau 316, Montréal, QC H2W1V1, Canada; jerome.lavoue{at}


Context Retrospective exposure assessment in population-based case–control studies poses a major challenge due to the wide range of occupations and industries involved. The FINJEM is a generic job-exposure matrix (JEM) developed in Finland, which represents a potentially cost-effective exposure assessment tool. While FINJEM has been used in several studies outside Finland, little is known of its applicability in other countries.

Methods We compared prevalence and intensity of exposure in FINJEM with a JEM developed from expert assessments of occupational histories obtained in a population-based case–control study in Montreal. Agreement for prevalence of exposure was measured by weighted κ coefficients between prevalence categories. Agreement for exposure intensity was measured by Spearman correlation coefficients between cells with non-null exposure.

Results The comparison involved 27 chemicals, the time period 1945–1995 and included 4743 jobs initially assessed by the Montreal experts. 4293 combinations of agent, occupational title and period were available for comparison of prevalence. Agent-specific prevalence was consistently higher in the Montreal JEM (median difference 1.7%). Agent-specific κ values between prevalence categories varied from 0.89 (welding fumes) to 0.07 (flour dust). The comparison of exposure levels involved 14 agents and 198 cells with non-null exposure in both sources. Agent-specific Spearman correlation varied from 0.89 (flour dust) to −0.35 (benzo(a)pyrene).

Conclusion Our observations suggest that information concerning several agents (eg, metals, welding fumes) can be successfully transported from Finland to Canada and probably other countries. However, for other agents, there was considerable disagreement, and hence, transportability of FINJEM cannot be assumed by default.

  • Case–control study
  • occupational exposure assessment
  • job-exposure matrix
  • validity and reliability
  • formaldehyde
  • retrospective exposure assessment
  • exposure assessment
  • statistics
  • toxicology
  • cancer
  • hygiene/occupational hygiene
  • wood dust
  • epidemiology
  • electromagnetic fields
  • non-ionising radiation
  • ionising radiation
  • public health
  • risk assessment
  • mathematical models
  • health surveillance
  • health screening
  • gender
  • Bayesian statistics
  • benzene
  • asbestos
  • alcohol
  • air pollution
  • respiratory
  • occupational asthma
  • mesothelioma
  • leukaemia

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  • Funding The INTEROCC study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (USA). The lung study was funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. The team was supported by the Guzzo-SRC Chair in Environment and Cancer. JL was supported by the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institutes and the Fond de la Recherche en Santé du Québec.

  • Competing interests None.

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