Open Access Open Badges Research article

Construct validity of functional capacity tests in healthy workers

Sandra E Lakke12*, Remko Soer23, Jan HB Geertzen2, Harriët Wittink4, Rob KW Douma12, Cees P van der Schans12 and Michiel F Reneman2

Author Affiliations

1 Research and Innovation Group in Health Care and Nursing, Hanze University Groningen, University of Applied Sciences, P.O. Box 3109, Groningen, 9701 DC, The Netherlands

2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Center for Rehabilitation, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

3 Groningen Spine Center, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

4 Research Group Lifestyle and Health, University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:180  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-180

Published: 8 June 2013



Functional Capacity (FC) is a multidimensional construct within the activity domain of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health framework (ICF). Functional capacity evaluations (FCEs) are assessments of work-related FC. The extent to which these work-related FC tests are associated to bio-, psycho-, or social factors is unknown. The aims of this study were to test relationships between FC tests and other ICF factors in a sample of healthy workers, and to determine the amount of statistical variance in FC tests that can be explained by these factors.


A cross sectional study. The sample was comprised of 403 healthy workers who completed material handling FC tests (lifting low, overhead lifting, and carrying) and static work FC tests (overhead working and standing forward bend). The explainable variables were; six muscle strength tests; aerobic capacity test; and questionnaires regarding personal factors (age, gender, body height, body weight, and education), psychological factors (mental health, vitality, and general health perceptions), and social factors (perception of work, physical workloads, sport-, leisure time-, and work-index). A priori construct validity hypotheses were formulated and analyzed by means of correlation coefficients and regression analyses.


Moderate correlations were detected between material handling FC tests and muscle strength, gender, body weight, and body height. As for static work FC tests; overhead working correlated fair with aerobic capacity and handgrip strength, and low with the sport-index and perception of work. For standing forward bend FC test, all hypotheses were rejected. The regression model revealed that 61% to 62% of material handling FC tests were explained by physical factors. Five to 15% of static work FC tests were explained by physical and social factors.


The current study revealed that, in a sample of healthy workers, material handling FC tests were related to physical factors but not to the psychosocial factors measured in this study. The construct of static work FC tests remained largely unexplained.

Lifting; Physical endurance; Validity; Work capacity evaluation; Work