Retrospective assessment of occupational exposure to whole-body vibration for a case-control study.J Occup Environ Hyg. 2012; 9(6):371-80.JO
Occupational whole-body vibration is often studied as a risk factor for conditions that may arise soon after exposure, but only rarely have studies examined associations with conditions arising long after occupational exposure has ceased. We aimed to develop a method of constructing previous occupational whole-body vibration exposure metrics from self-reported data collected for a case-control study of Parkinson's disease. A detailed job history and exposure interview was administered to 808 residents of British Columbia, Canada (403 people with Parkinson's disease and 405 healthy controls). Participants were prompted to report exposure to whole-body vibrating equipment. We limited the data to exposure reports deemed to be above background exposures and used the whole-body vibration literature (typically reporting on seated vector sum measurements) to assign intensity (acceleration) values to each type of equipment reported. We created four metrics of exposure (duration of exposure, most intense equipment exposure, and two dose metrics combining duration and intensity) and examined their distributions and correlations. We tested the role of age and gender in predicting whole-body vibration exposure. Thirty-six percent of participants had at least one previous occupational exposure to whole-body vibrating equipment. Because less than half of participants reported exposure, all continuous metrics exhibited positively skewed distributions, although the distribution of most intense equipment exposure was more symmetrically distributed among the exposed. The arithmetic mean of duration of exposure among those exposed was 14.0 (standard deviation, SD: 14.2) work years, while the geometric mean was 6.8 (geometric SD, GSD: 4.5). The intensity of the most intense equipment exposure (among the exposed) had an arithmetic mean of 0.9 (SD: 0.3) m·s(-2) and a geometric mean of 0.8 (GSD: 1.4). Male gender and older age were both associated with exposure, although the effect of age was attenuated after adjustment for gender. The methods developed allowed us to create continuous metrics of whole-body vibration retrospectively, displaying useful variance for epidemiologic studies.