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Longest Held Job in U.S. Occupational Groups: The National Health Interview Survey

Gómez-Marín, Orlando MSc PhD; Fleming, Lora E. MD, PhD; Caban, Alberto MPH; LeBlanc, William G. PhD; Lee, David J. PhD; Pitman, Terry BS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 1 - p 79-90
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000147213.76606.55
Original Articles

Objective: We sought to assess the validity of using current or most recent occupation as surrogate for longest-held job (and its exposures).

Methods: The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is an annual, probability, cross-sectional U.S. population survey. The 1986 and 1988 NHIS occupational supplements provided information for more than 49,000 workers. Using Cohen’s Kappa, concordance was assessed by occupational group and several subgroups.

Results: Statistically significant results were observed for all occupational groups. More than 70% of 13 broad occupations had a Kappa of 50.0 or greater, with variable concordance by subpopulation. Among 206 occupational groups, there was more variability: Kappa ranged from 92.7 (dentists) to 9.2 (farm managers).

Conclusions: Moderate-to-high levels of agreement was observed in this large, representative sample of US workers. Therefore, current occupation can be used as a surrogate for longest-held job for many occupational subgroups.

From the Departments of Epidemiology & Public Health (Dr Gómez-Marín, Dr Fleming, Mr Caban, Dr LeBlanc, Dr Lee, Mr Pitman) and Pediatrics (Dr Gómez-Marín), University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida.

Address correspondence to: Orlando Gómez, MSc, PhD, University of Miami School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, P.O. Box 016069 (R-669), Miami, FL 33101; E-mail:

Copyright © 2005 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine