To find out whether measurements of height made by health visitors are sufficiently accurate for use in routine screening of children we carried out an interobserver and intraobserver reliability study. Height measurements were made on a group of 10 children aged 3 years old and 10 aged 4.5 years old by two sets of four health visitors. They used a Microtoise or wall chart and the measurements were compared with those made by a trained auxologist with a Harpenden stadiometer. For a single assessment of height both pieces of equipment gave reasonably accurate results. In a child aged 3 years, with height measured on the Microtoise as 100 cm, the true height could be expected--with 95% probability--to lie between 99.2 cm-101.8 cm. At the age of 4.5 years, if the measurement was 110 cm, the child's true height could be expected to lie between 108.9 cm and 111.9 cm. The narrowest confidence interval for the growth rate from 3 to 4.5 years was achieved with the Microtoise, taking the mean of three measurements. We conclude that measurements made by health visitors are sufficiently accurate for routine screening of height, and the use of such measurements for the calculation of height velocity could be improved by more structured training.
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