Respiratory symptom reporting error in occupational surveillance of older farmers

Nancy E. Johnson, Steven R. Browning, Susan M. Westneat, T. Scott Prince, Mark B. Dignan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Agricultural health studies often use respiratory symptom report as a surrogate measure of disease and exposure; little data exists on the accuracy of symptom report in a work-motivated population. METHODS: Screening spirometry and telephone survey data for Kentucky male farmers >55 year (n = 134) in the NIOSH Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Project were compared to investigate the accuracy of symptom report as a measure of respiratory disease risk in older farmers. RESULTS: The prevalence of reported obstructive respiratory symptoms was 0.24 (95% CI = 0.17 to 0.31); objective measures increased prevalence to 0.35 (95% CI = 0.27 to 0.43). Customary symptom questions did not reliably reflect objective indicators of respiratory impairment. CONCLUSIONS: Older farmers may not accurately report respiratory symptoms. Whether by intention or misinterpretation of physical cues, self-reporting errors in this population may introduce misclassification bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-479
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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