Special Issue Paper
Patterns of Interobserver Error in the Scoring of Entheseal Changes
Article first published online: 24 OCT 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Special Issue: Entheseal Changes and Occupation: Technical and Theoretical Advances and Their Applications
Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 147–151, March/April 2013
How to Cite
Davis, C. B., Shuler, K. A., Danforth, M. E. and Herndon, K. E. (2013), Patterns of Interobserver Error in the Scoring of Entheseal Changes. Int. J. Osteoarchaeol., 23: 147–151. doi: 10.1002/oa.2277
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 24 OCT 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 24 SEP 2012 09:35PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 13 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 7 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 31 JUL 2012
- entheseal changes;
- interobserver error;
- musculoskeletal markers;
- reconstruction of activity;
- scoring methods
Although the interpretation of entheses has undergone considerable discussion recently, the role of interobserver error, especially in comparative contexts, has been only sporadically addressed. Using standards developed by Hawkey and Merbs, currently the most widely used system, rates of reproducibility were evaluated in two prehistoric North American skeletal series. Eight observers of varying experience levels scored 17 long bone entheses, representing both fibrous and fibrocartilaginous attachment types, on 58 individuals. Results showed rates of reproducibility to be only marginally higher than what would be expected by chance alone.
Observer experience level did not appear to be a factor nor was attachment type. As might be predicted, those entheses enjoying the highest rates of reproducibility exhibited relatively smooth attachment morphology and/or less defined boundaries whereas those with the lowest rates displayed the greatest range of surface morphology expression. Possible explanations for the levels of interobserver error observed include difficulties in reducing the highly variable enthesis morphology to a few discrete categories, categories that encompass too many criteria, and use of vague terminology in describing morphological features. Consequently, comparison of data across studies by different observers, especially those not trained by the developer of a given scoring method, must be undertaken with great caution. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.