Actual versus perceived lifting ability in healthy young men (18-25 years)

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Publication details

Innes, E & Hardwick, M 2010, 'Actual versus perceived lifting ability in healthy young men (18-25 years)', Work: a journal of prevention, assessment & rehabilitation, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 157-166.

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Objective: Men under 25 years are at high risk of back injuries caused by manual handling. Self reports and functional capacity evaluations are commonly used to determine a worker's lifting capacity, however, amongst uninjured individuals, conflicting views exist regarding how perceived physical functioning matches actual functioning in the absence of fear of pain and/or re-injury. The aim of this study was to compare self-reports and actual lifting performance in a group of healthy young men aged 18–25 years.

Method/participants: A correlational prospective design compared perceived lifting capacity, using self-report and the Spinal Function Sort, and actual lifting capacity, using the EPIC Lift Capacity test in 31 subjects.

Results: Subjects' self-reported lifting capacity varied more widely than their actual scores, indicating that they were less accurate at predicting their lifting performance using the self-report measure. One third of subjects were able to accurately self-report their lifting performance, approximately one-third underestimated, and the remaining third overestimated their lifting ability. Only two significant relationships were identified between self-reported and actual lifting performance for frequent knuckle-shoulder and floor-shoulder lifts. These correlations were weak and well below the 0.75 level considered necessary to be clinically significant.

Conclusions: This study found that self-report measures are not suitable when used in isolation. It is therefore recommended that self-report measures are used in conjunction with functional capacity evaluations to determine lifting capacity.

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