Intraobserver error associated with measurements of the hand

Authors

  • Seth M. Weinberg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
    2. Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, Division of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
    • Cellomics Building, 100 Technology Drive, Suite 500, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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  • Nicole M. Scott,

    1. Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, Division of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
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  • Katherine Neiswanger,

    1. Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, Division of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
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  • Mary L. Marazita

    1. Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, Division of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
    2. Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261
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Abstract

Measurements of the hand are common in studies that use anthropometric data. However, despite widespread usage, relatively few studies have formally assessed the degree of measurement error associated with standard measurements of the hand. This is significant because high amounts of measurement error can invalidate statistical results. In this paper, intraobserver precision estimates for measures of total hand length and total 3rd-digit length were evaluated from repeated measures on 90 subjects (180 separate hands and fingers). From this replicate data, three precision estimates were calculated: the technical error of measurement (TEM), the relative technical error of measurement (rTEM), and the coefficient of reliability (R). For both measurements, all three estimates yielded a very high degree of precision (TEM < 2 mm, rTEM < 1%, and R ≥ 0.95). These results suggest that both total hand length and 3rd-digit length are sufficiently precise for anthropometric research applications. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 17:368–371, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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