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The role of epidemiological studies in ergonomics research.
Sorock GS; Burdorf A; Collins JW; Fathallah FA; Lipscomb HJ; Reeve GR
Proceedings of the IEA 2000/HFES 2000 Congress, Vol. 5, San Diego, CA, July 30-August 4, 2000. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 2000 Jul; 5:545-547
Epidemiology is a set of established and developing methodological approaches for understanding injury and illness causation and prevention in human populations. It can help answer questions such as: 1. Did anything unusual occur just before the Occurrence of an injury in the workplace? 2. Is there a dose-response effect between physical load from lifting and the incidence of low back pain claims? 3. Are lifting aids in a nursing home effective for reducing the incidence and injury-related costs of low back pain claims? 4. How can I estimate the risk of injury to workers from robots? 5. How can I evaluate the effectiveness of a new exercise program being planned for my company? The answers to these questions are difficult to achieve without first carefully describing the nature of the problem at the outset, then selecting the most efficient epidemiological method to achieve the best answer, testing the methods of exposure assessment and outcome definition for reliability and validity, and finally interpreting the results with caution in light of other published literature [Burdorf and van der Beek 1999; Riihimaki 1999]. In a recent symposium [Courtney et al. 1997], researchers from many institutions summarized the state of the art of epidemiological methods as applied to occupational injury. The August 1997 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine contains the collected papers from that symposium. Our conclusions generally pointed to the need for more well-planned, controlled epidemiological studies in ergonomics research. Studies using case-control, case-crossover or prospective cohort methods are much needed. The role of such studies are essential for reaching conclusions about effects that can have profound impacts on people at work.
Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Ergonomics; Cumulative-trauma; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Repetitive-work; Epidemiology; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention
Proceedings of the IEA 2000/HFES 2000 Congress, Vol. 5, San Diego, CA, July 30-August 4, 2000
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Page last reviewed: October 26, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division