INTRODUCTION: Validity and reliability of the information relating to hand-transmitted vibration exposure and vibration-related health outcome are very important for case finding in hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) studies. In a local HAVS study among a group of construction workers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a questionnaire translated into Malay was created based on the Hand-transmitted Vibration Health Surveillance-Initial Questionnaire and Clinical Assessment, from Vibration Injury Network. This study was conducted to determine the reliability of standardised questions in the questionnaire used in the study.
METHODS: 15 subjects were selected randomly from the sampling frame of the HAVS study. Test-retest reliability was conducted on all items contained in parts 1-6 of the questionnaire and clinical assessment form, with an interval of 13-14 days between the first and second administration. Kappa coefficient and percentage agreement were calculated for all standardised questions.
RESULTS: The kappa coefficient and percentage agreement for all standardised questions varied from -0.174 to 1.000 and 66.7 to 100.0 percent, respectively. The kappa coefficient for important questions related to current vibratory tool usage, tingling, numbness and hand grip weakness were 0.714, 0.432, -0.077 and -0.120, respectively, while the percentage agreement for current vibratory tool usage, finger colour change, tingling, numbness and hand grip weakness were 85.7 percent, 92.8 percent, 79.5 percent, 85.7 percent and 71.4 percent, respectively. Intra-rater reliability on the extent of vibration exposure was good, with the intra-class correlation coefficient (95 percent confidence interval) ranging from 0.786 (0.334-0.931) to 0.975 (0.923-0.992).
CONCLUSION: Critical questions on vascular, neurological and musculoskeletal symptoms of HAVS were found to be reliable. The history on the extent of vibration exposure revealed good reliability when explored by the investigator alone. This questionnaire is considered reliable to be used in the study of HAVS among construction workers working in a construction site.