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1.  Development and Validation of a Job Exposure Matrix for Physical Risk Factors in Low Back Pain 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48680.
The aim was to construct and validate a gender-specific job exposure matrix (JEM) for physical exposures to be used in epidemiological studies of low back pain (LBP).
Materials and Methods
We utilized two large Finnish population surveys, one to construct the JEM and another to test matrix validity. The exposure axis of the matrix included exposures relevant to LBP (heavy physical work, heavy lifting, awkward trunk posture and whole body vibration) and exposures that increase the biomechanical load on the low back (arm elevation) or those that in combination with other known risk factors could be related to LBP (kneeling or squatting). Job titles with similar work tasks and exposures were grouped. Exposure information was based on face-to-face interviews. Validity of the matrix was explored by comparing the JEM (group-based) binary measures with individual-based measures. The predictive validity of the matrix against LBP was evaluated by comparing the associations of the group-based (JEM) exposures with those of individual-based exposures.
The matrix includes 348 job titles, representing 81% of all Finnish job titles in the early 2000s. The specificity of the constructed matrix was good, especially in women. The validity measured with kappa-statistic ranged from good to poor, being fair for most exposures. In men, all group-based (JEM) exposures were statistically significantly associated with one-month prevalence of LBP. In women, four out of six group-based exposures showed an association with LBP.
The gender-specific JEM for physical exposures showed relatively high specificity without compromising sensitivity. The matrix can therefore be considered as a valid instrument for exposure assessment in large-scale epidemiological studies, when more precise but more labour-intensive methods are not feasible. Although the matrix was based on Finnish data we foresee that it could be applicable, with some modifications, in other countries with a similar level of technology.
PMCID: PMC3495969  PMID: 23152793
2.  Paraneoplastic necrotizing myopathy in a woman with breast cancer: a case report 
Paraneoplastic necrotizing myopathy is a rare disorder, described as a proximal, symmetrical, and rapidly progressing myopathy that is manifested as a paraneoplastic syndrome. Diagnosis is established via histological examination of the muscle biopsy.
Case presentation
We present the case of a 53-year-old woman, born in Guinea-Bissau, with a history of locally advanced breast cancer, diagnosed ten months previously. The patient had experienced a progressively proximal muscle weakness of the lower extremities, which led to a total inability to walk. Upon neurological examination, the patient showed muscle weakness and atrophy in both proximal lower extremities without myalgia. Muscle strength was graded according to the Medical Research Council Scale as 2 out of 5 in the bilateral iliopsoas muscle, and 4 out of 5 in the bilateral quadriceps femoris. The deep-tendon reflexes were hypoactive. The laboratory examination showed increased values of serum creatinine kinase and myoglobin. An electromyogram showed an incomplete interference pattern during voluntary contraction in the iliopsoas and quadriceps femoris. The motor nerve conduction was 44.1 m/s and 44.3 m/s in the right and left tibial nerves, respectively, and 46.5 m/s and 46.1 m/s in the right and left peroneal nerves, respectively. The sensory motor nerve conductions and the compound motor action potential amplitudes were normal. These findings, despite not being specific, suggested a myopathy. Consequently, a muscle biopsy was performed. A biopsy specimen showed myopathic changes that were characteristic of a necrotizing myopathy.
Treatment for this syndrome consists of controlling the tumor, and providing corticoid therapy. This led to the partial remission of the neurological manifestations.
PMCID: PMC2783095  PMID: 19946512
3.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405

Results 1-3 (3)