Statistical methods for assessing agreement between double readings of clinical measurements

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Statistical analysis of data is crucial in cephalometric investigations. There are certainly excellent examples of good statistical practice in the field, but some articles published worldwide have carried out inappropriate analyses. Objective: The purpose of this study was to show that when the double records of each patient are traced on the same occasion, a control chart for differences between readings needs to be drawn, and limits of agreement and coefficients of repeatability must be calculated. Material and methods: Data from a well-known paper in Orthodontics were used for showing common statistical practices in cephalometric investigations and for proposing a new technique of analysis. Results: A scatter plot of the two radiograph readings and the two model readings with the respective regression lines are shown. Also, a control chart for the mean of the differences between radiograph readings was obtained and a coefficient of repeatability was calculated. Conclusions: A standard error assuming that mean differences are zero, which is referred to in Orthodontics and Facial Orthopedics as the Dahlberg error, can be calculated only for estimating precision if accuracy is already proven. When double readings are collected, limits of agreement and coefficients of repeatability must be calculated. A graph with differences of readings should be presented and outliers discussed.




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Journal of Applied Oral Science, v. 19, n. 5, p. 488-492, 2011.

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