Validity and reliability of a protocol to establish human critical environmental limits (PSU HEAT Project)

Rachel M. Cottle, S. Tony Wolf, Zachary S. Lichter, W. Larry Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The PSU HEAT protocol has been used to determine critical environmental limits, i.e., those combinations of ambient temperature and humidity above which heat stress becomes uncompensable and core temperature rises continuously. However, no studies have rigorously investigated the reliability and validity of this experimental protocol. Here, we assessed the 1) between-visit reliability and 2) validity of the paradigm. Twelve subjects (5 M/7W; 25 ± 4 yr) completed a progressive heat stress protocol during which they walked on a treadmill (2.2 mph, 3% gradient) in a controllable environmental chamber. After an equilibration period, either dry-bulb temperature (Tdb) was increased every 5 min while ambient water vapor pressure (Pa) was held constant (Tcrit experiments) or Pa was increased every 5 min while Tdb was held constant (Pcrit experiments) until an upward inflection in gastrointestinal temperature (Tgi) was observed. For reliability experiments, 11 subjects repeated the same protocol on a different day. For validity experiments, 10 subjects performed a Tcrit experiment at their previously determined Pcrit or vice versa. The between-visit reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient, ICC) for critical environmental limits was 0.98. Similarly, there was excellent agreement between original and validity trials for Tcrit (ICC = 0.95) and Pcrit (ICC = 0.96). Furthermore, the wet-bulb temperature at the Tgi inflection point was not different during reliability (P = 0.78) or validity (P = 0.32) trials compared with original trials. These findings support the reliability and validity of this experimental paradigm for the determination of critical environmental limits for maintenance of human heat balance. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The PSU HEAT progressive heat stress protocol has been used to identify critical environmental limits for various populations, clothing ensembles, and metabolic intensities. However, no studies have rigorously investigated the reliability and validity of this experimental model. Here, we demonstrate excellent reliability and validity of the PSU HEAT protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-339
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Volume132
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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