Pooling job physical exposure data from multiple independent studies in a consortium study of carpal tunnel syndrome

Jay M. Kapellusch, Arun Garg, Stephen S. Bao, Barbara A. Silverstein, Susan E. Burt, Ann Marie Dale, Bradley A. Evanoff, Frederic E. Gerr, Carisa Harris-Adamson, Kurt T. Hegmann, Linda A. Merlino, David M. Rempel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Pooling data from different epidemiological studies of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is necessary to improve statistical power and to more precisely quantify exposure-response relationships for MSDs. The pooling process is difficult and timeconsuming, and small methodological differences could lead to different exposure-response relationships. A subcommittee of a six-study research consortium studying carpal tunnel syndrome: (i) visited each study site, (ii) documented methods used to collect physical exposure data and (iii) determined compatibility of exposure variables across studies. Certain measures of force, frequency of exertion and duty cycle were collected by all studies and were largely compatible. A portion of studies had detailed data to investigate simultaneous combinations of force, frequency and duration of exertions. Limited compatibility was found for hand/wrist posture. Only two studies could calculate compatible Strain Index scores, but Threshold Limit Value for Hand Activity Level could be determined for all studies. Challenges of pooling data, resources required and recommendations for future researchers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1037
Number of pages17
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • Ergonomics
  • Exposure data analysis
  • Methods
  • Niosh distal upper extremity consortium
  • Physical exposure data compatibility
  • Physical exposure data pooling


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