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Methodological limitations in the study of video display terminal use and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders.
Gerr F; Marcus M; Ortiz DJ
Am J Ind Med 1996 Jun; 29(6):649-656
The limitations and methodology inherent in human factors and epidemiological studies of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and video display terminal (VDT) use were considered. Human factors studies, while frequently being used to question the safety of data entry tasks, have suffered from the limitation of having a small number of subjects, and short term exposure under conditions found in the laboratory, and the questionable practice of using short term outcomes to predict chronic health effects. Difficulties in interpreting data taken from epidemiologic studies usually have been traced to limitations in the methodology established in the research outlines. These difficulties in epidemiologic studies relate to obtaining a poor measurement of exposure and health outcomes and neglecting potentially confounding variables. Some studies have improved the measures of VDT usage but these improvements have not resulted in improved consistencies in the findings. The authors stress the need for additional studies attempting to clarify exposure and effect relationships by well conducted epidemiologic studies. Research should examine associations between VDT use and upper extremity disorders but only when measures of both exposure and adverse health effects are standard, objective, and valid.
NIOSH Publication; NIOSH Grant; Musculoskeletal system disorders; Epidemiology; Keyboard operators; Computer equipment; Office workers; Risk factors; Job stress; Physical stress; Repetitive work; Cumulative trauma disorders
Epidemiology & Biomathematics Emory University 1599 Clifton Road, NE Atlanta, GA 30329
Issue of Publication
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division