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Validity of a Self-Administered Questionnaire for Assessing Physical Work Loads in a General Population

Leijon, Ola RPT, BSc; Wiktorin, Christina PhD; Härenstam, Annika PhD; Karlqvist, Lena PhDMOA Research Group

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 8 - p 724-735
ORIGINAL ARTICLES: CME
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Learning Objectives 
  • Describe the design and rationale for this study evaluating eight questions on perceived physical load that are commonly a part of public health questionnaires.
  • Recount the findings on validity of the eight physical-load questions, and the implications for which questions may be retained and which should be redesigned.
  • Explain whether and how these findings were influenced by gender, type of work, and the presence of musculoskeletal complaints.

Describe the design and rationale for this study evaluating eight questions on perceived physical load that are commonly a part of public health questionnaires.Recount the findings on validity of the eight physical-load questions, and the implications for which questions may be retained and which should be redesigned.Explain whether and how these findings were influenced by gender, type of work, and the presence of musculoskeletal complaints. The aim of the study was to evaluate eight questions concerning physical loads, used in public health questionnaires. Working women and men (203) completed a self-administered questionnaire twice, following a test-retest method. The questions were also validated with a structured interview. Response agreement was calculated with Cohen’s κ statistics with quadratic weights (κw). Test-retest agreement varied from 0.74 to 0.92, and inter-method agreement from 0.38 to 0.81. The lowest coefficients were for the questions concerning bent/twisted work postures (κw 0.38) and repetitive movements (κw 0.39). The results did not indicate any substantial influence of gender, type of work or musculoskeletal complaint. The questions concerning general physical activity and sitting work postures, and physical exercise/sports during leisure times, had good validity. The questions concerning bent/twisted work posture and repetitive movements need to be re-designed.

From the Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Occupational Medicine, Karolinska, Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (Dr Leijon, Dr. Wiktorin, Dr Härenstam); Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden (Dr Leijon, Dr Wiktorin); National Institute for Working Life, Stockholm, Sweden (Dr Härenstam, Dr Karlqvist).

This study was supported by the Swedish Council for Work Life Research and the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Stockholm County Council. The authors are grateful to RPTs Agneta Bergkvist and Helena Bandh for skillful data collection.

Address correspondence to: Ola Leijon, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden; ola.leijon@smd.sll.se.

Ola Leijon has no commercial interest related to this article.

Copyright © by American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Copyright © 2002 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine