Accuracy of a Disability Instrument to Identify Workers Likely to Develop Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders

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BackgroundWork related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) result in substantial disability, and expense. Identifying workers or jobs with high risk can trigger intervention before workers are injured or the condition worsens.MethodsWe investigated a disability instrument, the QuickDASH, as a workplace screening tool to identify workers at high risk of developing upper extremity MSDs. Subjects included workers reporting recurring upper extremity MSD symptoms in the past 7 days (n = 559).ResultsThe QuickDASH was reasonably accurate at baseline with sensitivity of 73% for MSD diagnosis, and 96% for symptom severity. Specificity was 56% for diagnosis, and 53% for symptom severity. At 1-year follow-up sensitivity and specificity for MSD diagnosis was 72% and 54%, respectively, as predicted by the baseline QuickDASH score. For symptom severity, sensitivity and specificity were 86% and 52%. An a priori target sensitivity of 70% and specificity of 50% was met by symptom severity, work pace and quality, and MSD diagnosis.ConclusionThe QuickDASH may be useful for identifying jobs or workers with increased risk for upper extremity MSDs. It may provide an efficient health surveillance screening tool useful for targeting early workplace intervention for prevention of upper extremity MSD problems.

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