Volume 82, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



We evaluated methods for assessing body temperature by comparing subjective assessment of fever by parents and doctors with objective axillary, tympanic, and rectal measurements of body temperature in 1000 children ≤ 10-years-old who presented at outpatient clinics with recent history of fever. Sensitivity of subjective assessment of fever were higher at thresholds of ≥ 38.3°C with specificity as low as 60%. Axillary methods showed better specificity at fever thresholds of > 38.0°C with maximum sensitivity of 63% at thresholds of ≥ 37.5°C. Bland-Altman analysis showed wide limits of agreement between objective methods of measurements: −1°C to 3°C for comparison of rectal and axillary, −1°C to 2°C for rectal and tympanic, and −1°C to 2°C for tympanic and axillary measurements. A choice of method to measure body temperature for diagnosis of fever in African children should be informed by a trade off between its specificity and sensitivity that considers thresholds > 38.0°C.


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  • Received : 24 Jul 2009
  • Accepted : 17 Oct 2009
  • Published online : 05 Feb 2010

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