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Using job-title-based physical exposures From O*NET in an epidemiological study of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Evanoff B; Zeringue A; Franzblau A; Dale AM
Hum Factors 2014 Feb; 56(1):166-177
Objective: We studied associations between job-title-based measures of force and repetition and incident carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Background: Job exposure matrices (JEMs) are not commonly used in studies of work-related upper-extremity disorders. Method: We enrolled newly hired workers in a prospective cohort study. We assigned a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code to each job held and extracted physical work exposure variables from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). CTS case definition required both characteristic symptoms and abnormal median nerve conduction. Results: Of 1,107 workers, 751 (67.8%) completed follow-up evaluations. A total of 31 respondents (4.4%) developed CTS during an average of 3.3 years of follow-up. Repetitive motion, static strength, and dynamic strength from the most recent job held were all significant predictors of CTS when included individually as physical exposures in models adjusting for age, gender, and BMI. Similar results were found using time-weighted exposure across all jobs held during the study. Repetitive motion, static strength, and dynamic strength were correlated, precluding meaningful analysis of their independent effects. Conclusion: This study found strong relationships between workplace physical exposures assessed via a JEM and CTS, after adjusting for age, gender, and BMI. Though job-title-based exposures are likely to result in significant exposure misclassification, they can be useful for large population studies where more precise exposure data are not available. Application: JEMs can be used as a measure of workplace physical exposures for some studies of musculoskeletal disorders.
Epidemiology; Ergonomics; Carpal-tunnel-syndrome; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Physiology; Physiological-effects; Workers; Analytical-processes; Statistical-analysis; Repetitive-work; Physical-fitness; Models; Age-groups; Humans; Men; Women; Author Keywords: carpal tunnel syndrome; job exposure matrix; O*NET; prospective cohort study; ergonomics
Bradley Evanoff, Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8005, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-008017; M082013
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Construction; Manufacturing
Source Name
Human Factors
Performing Organization
Washington University - St. Louis, Missouri
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division