OccIDEAS: Retrospective occupational exposure assessment in community-based studies made easier
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Assessing occupational exposure in retrospective community-based case-control studies is difficult as measured exposure data are very seldom available. The expert assessment method is considered the most accurate way to attribute exposure but it is a time consuming and expensive process and may be seen as subjective, nonreproducible, and nontransparent. In this paper, we describe these problems and outline our solutions as operationalized in a web-based software application (OccIDEAS). The novel aspects of OccIDEAS are combining all steps in the assessment into one software package; enmeshing the process of assessment into the development of questionnaires; selecting the exposure(s) of interest; specifying rules for exposure assignment; allowing manual or automatic assessments; ensuring that circumstances in which exposure is possible for an individual are highlighted for review; providing reports to ensure consistency of assessment. Development of this application has the potential to make high-quality occupational assessment more efficient and accessible for epidemiological studies.
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