Comparison of self-reported occupational exposure with a job exposure matrix in an international community-based study on asthma

F de Vocht, JP Zock*, H Kromhout, J Sunyer, JM Anto, P Burney, M Kogevinas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Background Self-reports are frequently used to assess occupational exposures in epidemiological studies on asthma, but the validity and influence of asthma status on performance is unclear.

Methods Data on self-reported exposure to air pollutants were obtained for 16,752 randomly selected working individuals from 40 study centers, and compared to exposures obtained by a job exposure matrix (JEM). The influence of current asthma symptoms or medication was investigated.

Results Specificity of self-reports amounted to 0.83 and 0.87, and sensitivity 0.48 and 0.42 for asthmatics and non-asthmatics, respectively, when compared with the JEM. Self-reported exposure, but not exposure assessed by the JEM, was more prevalent in areas with a higher community prevalence of asthma.

Conclusions The prevalence of self-reported occupational exposures seems to depend on asthmatic health status at both the individual and the community level. Associations between self-reports and asthma are likely to be biased, especially in pooled analyses combining different areas with varying prevalence rates of asthma. Am. J. Ind. Med. 47:434-442, 2005. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-442
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of industrial medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • exposure assessment
  • self-reports
  • JEM
  • asthma

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