OccIDEAS: An innovative tool to assess past asbestos exposure in the Australian mesothelioma registry
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Malignant mesothelioma is an uncommon but rapidly fatal disease for which the principal aetiological agent is exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is of particular significance in Australia where asbestos use was very widespread from the 1950s until the 1980s. Exposure to asbestos includes occupational exposure associated with working with asbestos or in workplaces where asbestos is used and also 'take-home' exposure of family members of asbestos exposed workers. Asbestos exposure may also be nonoccupational, occurring as a consequence of using asbestos products in non-occupational contexts and passive exposure is also possible, such as exposure to asbestos products in the built environment or proximity to an environmental source of exposure, for example an asbestos production plant. The extremely long latency period for this disease makes exposure assessment problematic in the context of a mesothelioma registry. OccIDEAS, a recently developed online tool for retrospective exposure assessment, has been adapted for use in the Australian Mesothelioma Registry (AMR) to enable systematic retrospective exposure assessment of consenting cases. Twelve occupational questionnaire modules and one non-occupational module have been developed for the AMR, which form the basis of structured interviews using OccIDEAS, which also stores collected data and provides a framework for generating metrics of exposure.
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