Personal and Workplace Factors and Median Nerve Function in a Pooled Study of 2396 US Workers

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Abstract

Objective:

Evaluate associations between personal and workplace factors and median nerve conduction latency at the wrist.

Methods:

Baseline data on workplace psychosocial and physical exposures were pooled from four prospective studies of production and service workers (N = 2396). During the follow-up period, electrophysiologic measures of median nerve function were collected at regular intervals.

Results:

Significant adjusted associations were observed between age, body mass index, sex, peak hand force, duration of forceful hand exertions, Threshold Limit Value for Hand Activity Limit, forceful repetition rate, wrist extension, and decision latitude on median nerve latencies.

Conclusions:

Occupational and nonoccupational factors have adverse effects on median nerve function. Measuring median nerve function eliminates possible reporting bias that may affect symptom-based carpal tunnel syndrome case definitions. These results suggest that previously observed associations between carpal tunnel syndrome and occupational factors are not the result of such reporting bias.

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