Technical Error of Measurement (TEM)

Technical Error of Measurement (TEM)


Anthropometrical measurements have been widely utilized to follow children’s development in the verification of the adaptations to the physical training in the athletes’ selection, in studies of ethnic characterization, among others. The physical growth occurs according to a characteristic sequence associated with biological aspects of the development.

When anthropometrical measures are repeated, a variability of the measures may occur as a result of the physical characteristics diversity of the population analyzed, due to the biological variation that cannot be avoided, or due to technical variations; that can be avoided.

The variability on the anthropometrical measurements caused by variations on the technical execution is responsible for the higher incidence of error. The most common way to express the error margin in anthropometry is by means of the technical error of measurement (TEM), which is an accuracy index and represents the measurement quality and control dimension. The TEM index allows anthropometrists to verify the accuracy degree when performing and repeating anthropometrical measurements (intra-evaluator) and when comparing their measurement with measurements from another anthropometrist (inter-evaluator).

In order to obtain intra-evaluator and inter-evaluator TEM, the following aspects must be observed:

  • TEM always presents the same measurement unit (cm, mm);
  • TEM is only applied to the measurement performed and to the equipment used (i.e., triceps fold or arm perimeter, performed with a given device model and label);

  • TEM is only applied in a similar population, in other words, it is calculated for athletes;
  • In order to calculate TEM, one should consider at least 20 measurements that must be performed at the same moment (morning/afternoon). same day and one person measuring must not be observed by the other.