Concordance of occupational and environmental exposure information elicited from patients with Alzheimer's disease and surrogate respondents
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Identification of risk factors for Alzheimer's disease through the use of well designed case-control studies has been described as a research priority. Increasing recognition of the neurotoxic potential of many industrial chemicals such as organic solvents raises the question of the occupational and environmental contribution to the etiology of this high-priority health problem. The intention of this study was to develop and evaluate a methodology that could be used in a large scale case-control study of the occupational and environmental risk factors for dementia or a population-based surveillance system for neurotoxic disorders. The specific objectives of this study were to investigate: 1) the reliability of exposure-eliciting, interviewer-administered questionnaires given to patients with Alzheimer's disease (SDAT); 2) the reliability of exposure-eliciting interviewer-administered questionnaires given to the family of patients with SDAT and the agreement with the responses of the patient or surrogate respondents; 3) the reliability and agreement of responses of age- and sex-matched control patients and their families selected from geriatric care institutions and the community, with respect to the same exposure-eliciting and interviewer-administered questionnaire; and 4) the reliability of agent-based exposure ascertainment by a single, trained rater. The results of the study demonstrate that occupational and environmental histories from which exposure information can be derived is most reliably elicited from job descriptions of cases and control subjects rather than job titles alone or detailed probes for potential neurotoxic exposures. This will necessitate the use of standardized interviewer-administered instruments to derive this information in case-control studies of Alzheimer's disease or population-based surveillance systems for occupational and environmental neurotoxicity.
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