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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2009, Article ID 957023, 5 pages
Research Article

OccIDEAS: Retrospective Occupational Exposure Assessment in Community-Based Studies Made Easier

1Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia 6012, Australia
2Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7360, USA
3Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia
4Data Scientists Pty Ltd, Sunshine Coast, Queensland 4560, Australia

Received 6 February 2009; Revised 14 June 2009; Accepted 31 August 2009

Academic Editor: Gary M. Marsh

Copyright © 2009 Lin Fritschi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.