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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 48  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 161-164

Comparative study of automated versus manual measurement of body temperature


Department of Physiology, Goa Medical College, Bambolim, Goa, India

Date of Submission09-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance01-May-2021
Date of Web Publication28-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sanjay Shamrao Pandarbale
Department of Physiology, Goa Medical College, Bambolim, Goa
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jss.jss_98_20

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  Abstract 


Background: Evaluation of body temperature is one of the important diagnostic methods and signs of health and disease, both in everyday life and medical care. Study of Automated versus Manual Measurement of Body Temperature: a comparative study. It is one of the frequently performed clinical observations. Materials and Methods: We took 148 apparently healthy medical students in the age group of 18–23 years (n = 90 females, n = 58 males). Their oral and axillary temperatures were recorded using mercury and digital thermometers. Data were collected and analyzed using Student's “t”–test, and P < 0.05 was taken as scientifically significant. Results: In our study, we found that the difference in the temperatures between mercury and digital thermometers is so negligible that it will not cause any problems in the clinical interpretation. Conclusion: Hence, we would like to recommend the use of digital thermometer to that of mercury thermometer because it is very simple, easy, accurate, and convenient to use.

Keywords: Axillary temperature, digital thermometer, mercury thermometer, oral temperature


How to cite this article:
Pandarbale SS, Sardessai SR, Rodrigues E. Comparative study of automated versus manual measurement of body temperature. J Sci Soc 2021;48:161-4

How to cite this URL:
Pandarbale SS, Sardessai SR, Rodrigues E. Comparative study of automated versus manual measurement of body temperature. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 18];48:161-4. Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2021/48/3/161/333857




  Introduction Top


Evaluation of body temperature is one of the important diagnostic methods and signs of health and disease, both in everyday life and medical care. Study of Automated versus Manual Measurement of Body Temperature: a comparative study. It is one of the frequently performed clinical observations. Mercury thermometers are most commonly used. Using the mercury thermometer requires adequate skill, training, and practice, whereas the automated devices are convenient and easy to use. There are different companies and different makes of these automated thermometers varying in prizes and available on the counter. Mercury is one among the toxic heavy metals and is ubiquitous in the environment. No doubt about its easy affordability, availability accuracy and convenience in use but caution about its toxicity is a priority for all of us today and it is a great matter of concern.[1] However, there is increase awareness about toxicity of mercury and its potential environmental concerns have led to the replacement of mercury thermometer with alternative digital thermometer globally. There are limited data available about the accuracy and reliability of automated thermometers. The objective of our study was to compare the accuracy and to find the existence of any difference, between the readings taken using manual mercury and the digital thermometers.


  Materials and Methods Top


The present study was undertaken using within-group design consisting of recording oral and axillary temperatures.[2] A cross-sectional study was carried out after taking convenient sample size of 148 apparently healthy 1st-year MBBS students in the age group of 18–23 years (n = 90 females, n = 58 males). After taking written informed consent and approval from the Institutional Ethics Committee, Goa Medical College, Bambolim, students were enrolled for the study.

Inclusion criteria

Those who gave consent and were willing to participate were enrolled in the study.

Exclusion criteria

Those who were obese, who were on any medications such as antipyretics, antibiotics, and barbiturates, and who were performing exercise, pranayama, and yoga were excluded in the study.

Subjects were instructed to wear light loose clothing and not to consume any hot, cold, or spicy food or beverages and no bubble gum chewing, smoking before the procedure was allowed, which could affect their readings. It is closely correlated with the increase of temperature in the subclavian artery.[3] They were given rest for 5 min before taking each reading. Readings were carried in the afternoon from 2 to 5 pm during practical classes. Oral temperature was recorded by placing thermometer under surface of the tongue, and thermometer was placed in direct contact with the axilla for recording axillary temperature for 1–2 min to allow mercury to reach body temperature after following standard accepted laboratory protocols, which was performed using mercury and digital thermometers.[4] Data were collected and analyzed using Student's “t”-test, and P < 0.05 was taken as scientifically significant.


  Results Top


Data were collected and analyzed using Student's “t”-test, and P < 0.05 was taken as scientifically significant. In our study, in case of both males and females, the mean oral temperature using mercury and digital thermometers was 98.64°F ± 0.83°F and 98.47°F ± 0.6°F and the difference was of 0.17°F and the axillary temperature was found to be 98.24°F ± 1°F and 97.96°F ± 0.84°F, respectively, and it was scientifically significant for both the temperatures [Table 1].
Table 1: Oral and axillary temperatures using mercury and digital thermometer in °F in males and females (n=148)

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Moreover, in case of males, the mean oral temperature using mercury and digital thermometer was 98.64°F ± 0.82°F and 98.47°F ± 0.69°F, respectively, and the difference was of 0.17°F and the axillary temperature was 98.32°F ± 0.8°F and 98.07°F ± 0.69°F, respectively, and the difference was 0.25°F, and it was not significant for oral temperature, but it was scientifically significant for axillary temperature recording [Table 2].
Table 2: Oral and axillary temperatures using mercury and digital thermometer in °F in males (n=58)

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Moreover, in case of females, the mean oral temperature using mercury and digital thermometer was 98.64°F ± 1.05°F and 98.47°F ± 0.66°F, respectively, and the difference was of 0.17°F, and the axillary temperature was 98.19°F ±1.39°F and 97.9°F± 1.15°F, respectively, and the difference was 0.29°F, and it was not scientifically significant [Table 3].
Table 3: Oral and axillary temperatures using mercury and digital thermometer in °F in females (n=90)

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  Discussion Top


A normal temperature recorded from the mouth or oral cavity is 96.44°F to 98.6°F (35.8°C–37°C) and in the axilla is 0.5°C lower. Diurnal variation in temperature does exist. In hospitalized patients, regular temperature measurements may identify certain characteristic patterns of disturbance. To convert °C to °F, multiply by 9/5 and add 32, and to convert °F to °C, subtract 32 and multiply by 5/9.[3],[5] As we know that temperature is one of the most common clinical sign and mercury thermometer has been in use ever since 1867.[6] Due to concerns of environmental hazards and toxicity of mercury which can occur due to breakage of mercury thermometer, difficulty in reading the values and possible way to spread acquired infections from one to another.[7] Various companies have come out with their various makes with the hope of replacing the clinical in-glass thermometer by digital thermometers. In a study done by Chand, it was shown that the difference in the mean of the temperature readings between the digital and mercury in-glass thermometers is 0.10°F ± 0.20°F, and so, little variation in temperature will not affect clinical condition.[8] Studies done by Dolkar et al. concluded that digital thermometer under recorded temperature by 0.1°F–0.3°F and there was no significant difference noted while using mercury and digital thermometer.[9] Studies done by Gerensea and Murugan concluded that there was significant difference between mercury and digital thermometer readings, digital thermometer is a good alternative than mercury thermometer, and variations in temperature recording are not going to affect clinical decisions.[10] Studies done by Chue et al. compared tympanic and oral mercury thermometers at high ambient temperatures, and no significant difference was observed.[11] In our study, in case of both males and females, statistical significant difference was noted in the mean oral temperature using mercury and digital thermometers was 98.64°F ± 0.83°F and 98.47°F ± 0.6°F and the difference was of 0.17°F and the axillary temperature was found to be 98.24°F ± 1°F and 97.96°F ± 0.84°F and the difference was of 0.28°F, respectively [Table 1]. Moreover, in case of males, the mean oral temperature using mercury and digital thermometers was 98.64°F ± 0.82°F and 98.47°F ± 0.69°F, respectively, and the difference was of 0.17°F and the axillary temperature was 98.32°F ± 0.8°F and 98.07°F ± 0.69°F, respectively, and the difference was 0.25°F, and it was not significant for oral temperature, but it was scientifically significant for axillary temperature recording [Table 2]. Moreover, in case of females, the mean oral temperature using mercury and digital thermometers was 98.64°F ± 1.05°F and 98.47°F ± 0.66°F, respectively, and the difference was of 0.17°F and the axillary temperature was 98.19°F ± 1.39°F and 97.9°F ± 1.15°F, respectively, and the difference was 0.29°F and it was not scientifically significant [Table 3].

Hence, we recommend the use of digital thermometer than that of mercury thermometer because it is simple, very easy, accurate, and convenient to use. In our study, the difference in the temperatures recorded using mercury and digital thermometer is so negligible that it will not cause any problems in the clinical interpretation.

Limitations of study and future recommendations

  1. Our study was limited to a sample size of 148 apparently healthy young adults; hence, the results of our study cannot be generalized to the entire population. Hence, further studies with a larger sample size having different age groups should be undertaken which will throw more light on the subject
  2. The study was conducted using thermometers of two different company makes (Hicks clinical mercury in glass thermometer and Dr. Morepen Digi Flexi Digital Thermometer), different results could be obtained using thermometers (instruments) of different company makes, and hence, extensive studies needs to be done to validate the accuracy of these instruments
  3. Our study was carried out during the summer months of February and March (between 2 pm and 5 pm); hence, future studies to evaluate these seasonal and diurnal variations during different seasons and at different times need to be carried out
  4. We did not record a true measure of core body temperature to correlate with.



  Conclusion Top


There is no doubt that about mercury thermometer's affordability, availability accuracy, and convenience in use, but a big matter of concern is about its toxicity and its potential environmental concerns which is a top priority for all of us in this era today. Hence, from our studies, we recommend the use of digital thermometer to that of mercury thermometer because it is simple, very easy, accurate, and convenient to use. The difference in the temperatures between mercury and digital is so negligible that it will not cause any problems in the clinical case interpretation.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Halder N, Peshin SS, Pandey RM, Gupta YK. Awareness assessment of harmful effects of mercury in a health care set-up in India: A survey-based study. Toxicol Ind Health 2015;31:1144-51.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Hulley SB, Cummings SR, Browner WS, Deborah Grady, Norman Hearst, Thomas B. et al. Designing an Experiment: Clinical Trials I. Text book of Designing Clinical Research. 2nd ed. An epidemiological approach. Page 143.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Jain AK. Text Book of Physiology Volume II as per Revised MCI Curriculum, 2019. 8th ed. Industrial area, Trilokpur road Kala Amb 173030, Dist Sirmour (HP).Avichal Publishing Company for MBBS; 2019. p. 1005.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Jain AK. Manual of Practical Physiology for MBBS. 5th ed. Industrial area, Trilokpur road Kala Amb 173030, Dist Sirmour (HP).: Arya Publications (APC); 2016. p. 206.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Glynn M, Drake W. Hutchison's Clinical Methods: An Integrated Approach to Clinical Practice. 23rd ed. British library cataloguing in publication data:Saunders Elsevier; 2014. p. 16.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Fulbrook P. Core temperature measurement in adults: A literature review. J Adv Nurs 1993;18:1451-60.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Uslu S, Ozdemir H, Bulbul A, Comert S, Bolat F, Can E, et al. A comparison of different methods of temperature measurements in sick newborns. J Trop Pediatr 2011;57:418-23.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Chand MS, Sharma S, Singh RS, Reddy S. Comparison On Difference In Manual And Electronic Recording Of Vital Signs In Patients Asmitted In Ctvs Icu And Ccu. http://doi.org/10.33698/NRF0177- 2010;11.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Dolkar R, Kapoor S, Singh NV, Suri V. A comparative study on the Recording of temperature by the clinical mercury thermometer and digital thermometer. Nurs Midwifery Res J 2013;9:40-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Gerensea H, Murugan R. Is there significant difference between digital and glass mercury thermometer? Adv Nurs 2016;1-10.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Chue AL, Moore RL, Cavey A, Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Nosten F, et al. Comparability of tympanic and oral mercury thermometers at high ambient temperatures. BMC Res Notes 2012;5:356.  Back to cited text no. 11
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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