Assessment of Lifetime Occupational Exposure in an Epidemiologic Study of COPD
Monica Graziani1, Brent Doney*, 1, Eva Hnizdo1, Jacqueline Villnave2, Victor Breen2, Sheila Weinmann2, William M. Vollmer2, Mary Ann McBurnie2, A. Sonia Buist3, Michael Heumann4
Identifiers and Pagination:Year: 2012
First Page: 27
Last Page: 35
Publisher Id: TOEPIJ-5-27
Article History:Received Date: 07/02/2012
Revision Received Date: 23/04/2012
Acceptance Date: 24/06/2012
Electronic publication date: 23/7/2012
Collection year: 2012
open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Ascertainment of lifetime occupational exposures in an epidemiological study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is important in order to investigate its effect on the disease and develop prevention strategies. The aim of our paper is to describe and evaluate a methodology used to assign lifetime occupational exposure to participants in a case-control study of COPD where lifetime occupational history was ascertained through telephone questionnaire interviews.
The methodology involved assigning to each individual a qualitative index of potential exposure to eight occupational hazards, summarized individually overall the job categories reported by the individual, and an overall qualitative index of lifetime exposure to all eight hazards. The eight occupational hazards scored were mineral dusts, metal dusts/fumes, organic dusts, irritant gases/vapors, sensitizers, organic solvents, diesel exhaust, and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Two industrial hygienists independently assigned the above indices based on: their expert opinion, a priori knowledge based on literature review, and study participants’ responses to interviewer questions regarding types and duration of exposure. To evaluate agreement of the assigned scores, we used the Kappa statistic to test the agreement between the two scorers on each of the indices. The Kappa statistic generally indicated good agreement between the industrial hygienists’ scores but varied by exposure from 0.42 to 0.86. Although the exposure scoring is somewhat subjective, it is based on experience of experts and review of the literature. This method, with subject interviews providing qualitative lifetime exposure data when air monitoring has not been conducted, is useful for reconstructing lifetime exposures.