Harmonization process and reliability assessment of anthropometric measurements in the elderly EXERNET multi-centre study

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41752. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041752. Epub 2012 Jul 31.


Background: The elderly EXERNET multi-centre study aims to collect normative anthropometric data for old functionally independent adults living in Spain.

Purpose: To describe the standardization process and reliability of the anthropometric measurements carried out in the pilot study and during the final workshop, examining both intra- and inter-rater errors for measurements.

Materials and methods: A total of 98 elderly from five different regions participated in the intra-rater error assessment, and 10 different seniors living in the city of Toledo (Spain) participated in the inter-rater assessment. We examined both intra- and inter-rater errors for heights and circumferences.

Results: For height, intra-rater technical errors of measurement (TEMs) were smaller than 0.25 cm. For circumferences and knee height, TEMs were smaller than 1 cm, except for waist circumference in the city of Cáceres. Reliability for heights and circumferences was greater than 98% in all cases. Inter-rater TEMs were 0.61 cm for height, 0.75 cm for knee-height and ranged between 2.70 and 3.09 cm for the circumferences measured. Inter-rater reliabilities for anthropometric measurements were always higher than 90%.

Conclusion: The harmonization process, including the workshop and pilot study, guarantee the quality of the anthropometric measurements in the elderly EXERNET multi-centre study. High reliability and low TEM may be expected when assessing anthropometry in elderly population.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Size*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results

Grant support

The elderly EXERNET multi-centre study has been supported by the Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales (104/07), Universidad de Zaragoza (UZ 2008-BIO-01) and Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad (147/2011). A. Gómez-Cabello has received a PhD grant from the Gobierno de Aragon (B059/09). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.