Using Decision Rules to Assess Occupational Exposure in Population-Based Studies

  • Jean-François SauvéEmail author
  • Melissa C. Friesen
Occupational Health (K Applebaum and M Friesen, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Occupational Health


Purpose of Review

Population-based studies increasingly link task-based occupational questionnaire responses collected from subjects to exposure estimates via transparent, programmable decision rules. We reviewed recent applications and methodological developments of rule-based approaches.

Recent Findings

Agent-specific decision rules require interviews incorporating work-task-based questions. Some studies have developed rules before the interviews took place, while others developed rules after the interviews were completed. Agreement between rule-based estimates and exposures assigned using job-by-job expert review were generally moderate to good (Kappa = 0.4–0.8). Rules providing quantitative intensity levels using measurement data or that integrate multiple independent exposure sources for the same job represent further advances to improve the characterization of occupational exposures in population studies.


Decision rules have provided transparent and reproducible assessments, reduce job-by-job review, and facilitate sensitivity analyses in epidemiologic studies. Future studies should consider the development of decision rules concurrent with the questionnaire design to facilitate occupational exposure assessment efforts.


Occupational exposure assessment Decision rules Population-based studies 



This work was supported by the Intramural Research Programs of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and GeneticsNational Cancer InstituteRockvilleUSA

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