Objectives The aim of the study was to investigate the extent to which self-reported symptoms can predict actual performance on tests for attention, speed, and memory. Methods Men in manual occupations (N=432) answered the Q16 questionnaire, which is a neuropsychiatric questionnaire, before being tested with a neuropsychological test battery. The mean age of the men was 42.4 (range 18-68) years. Results The men reported few (mean 2.3) symptoms or complaints. With one exception, none of the memory-related complaints predicted weaker performance on memory tests. However, the participants who reported such complaints showed a somewhat weaker performance on tests for attention, cognitive speed, and reaction time. A question about concentration problems predicted, to a certain degree, performance on tests for attention, speed and reaction time. Conclusions The results suggest that, in occupational and environmental health settings, self-reported cognitive abilities can be trusted to only a limited degree.
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health 2: 41–46