Self-Assessment of Work Capability

Faculty Researcher: Anne G. Hartigan, MD, Clinical Instructor, Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan

The ability to determine which job will match a person’s capability has been problematic in the industrial environment and even more challenging for individuals with disabilities. Existing self-assessment tools address functional status through measures of activities of daily living, quality of life, general health, psychosocial factors or functional capacity evaluations, but few focus on specific work tasks. Through the use of a video-based self-assessment tool, we plan to quantify a worker’s capabilities through comparison with ergonomic ratings. Specific aims include: 1) Test the validity and reliability of a self-administered worker functional assessment tool in a population with known low back or upper extremity MSDs; 2) Test sensitivity to detect a disabled population by comparing self-assessment data from a disabled population with existing data on a working, non-disabled population (N=79). Methods include recruitment of 50 subjects from University of Michigan clinics. Subjects will complete questions on the self-driven computer self-assessment tool including demographic data, visual analog scale for pain by body part, Short-Form 12, Oswestry questionnaire, Disability Assessment Shoulder Hand (DASH) and review a series of videos demonstrating different postures, forces and repetition. After watching a series of videos, subjects will use a VAS to rate how confident they are in performing the motion demonstrated. The instrument’s validity will be tested on two levels: comparing individual responses to 1) ergonomic analysis of a series of standard jobs, and on a subset, 2) ergonomic analysis of a subject’s existing job. Internal consistency and reliability will be tested through randomization of repeat questions and videos throughout the tool. This pilot study may provide an efficient, inexpensive system in comparison to the traditional functional capacity evaluation (FCE) and translate into a prevention strategy which leads to an effective workplace intervention to place newly hired and returning workers with disabilities.


Research trainee’s current position:
Anne Hartigan is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan.