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Occupational exposures and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): comparison of a COPD-specific job exposure matrix and expert-evaluated occupational exposures


Objectives To compare the occupational exposure levels assigned by our National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-specific job exposure matrix (NIOSH COPD JEM) and by expert evaluation of detailed occupational information for various jobs held by members of an integrated health plan in the Northwest USA.

Methods We analysed data from a prior study examining COPD and occupational exposures. Jobs were assigned exposure levels using 2 methods: (1) the COPD JEM and (2) expert evaluation. Agreement (Cohen's κ coefficients), sensitivity and specificity were calculated to compare exposure levels assigned by the 2 methods for 8 exposure categories.

Results κ indicated slight to moderate agreement (0.19–0.51) between the 2 methods and was highest for organic dust and overall exposure. Sensitivity of the matrix ranged from 33.9% to 68.5% and was highest for sensitisers, diesel exhaust and overall exposure. Specificity ranged from 74.7% to 97.1% and was highest for fumes, organic dust and mineral dust.

Conclusions This COPD JEM was compared with exposures assigned by experts and offers a generalisable approach to assigning occupational exposure.

  • occupational exposure
  • job exposure matrix
  • epidemiologic methods
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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