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STATISTICS
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 187-191

Common pitfalls in statistical analysis: Measures of agreement


1 Department of Anaesthesiology, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Surgical Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication5-Oct-2017

Correspondence Address:
Priya Ranganathan
Department of Anaesthesiology, Tata Memorial Centre, Ernest Borges Road, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/picr.PICR_123_17

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   Abstract 


Agreement between measurements refers to the degree of concordance between two (or more) sets of measurements. Statistical methods to test agreement are used to assess inter-rater variability or to decide whether one technique for measuring a variable can substitute another. In this article, we look at statistical measures of agreement for different types of data and discuss the differences between these and those for assessing correlation.

Keywords: Agreement, biostatistics, concordance


How to cite this article:
Ranganathan P, Pramesh C S, Aggarwal R. Common pitfalls in statistical analysis: Measures of agreement. Perspect Clin Res 2017;8:187-91

How to cite this URL:
Ranganathan P, Pramesh C S, Aggarwal R. Common pitfalls in statistical analysis: Measures of agreement. Perspect Clin Res [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 19];8:187-91. Available from: http://www.picronline.org/text.asp?2017/8/4/187/215973




   Introduction Top


Often, one is interested in knowing whether measurements made by two (sometimes more than two) different observers or by two different techniques produce similar results. This is referred to as agreement or concordance or reproducibility between measurements. Such analysis looks at pairs of measurements, either both categorical or both numeric, with each pair having been made on one individual (or a pathology slide, or an X-ray).

Superficially, these data may appear to be amenable to analysis using methods used for 2 × 2 tables (if the variable is categorical) or correlation (if numeric), which we have discussed previously in this series.[1],[2] However, a closer look would show that this is not true. In those methods, the two measurements on each individual relate to different variables (e.g., exposure and outcome, or height and weight, etc), whereas in the “agreement” studies, the two measurements relate to the same variable (e.g., chest radiographs rated by two radiologists or hemoglobin measured by two methods).


   What Is Agreement? Top


Let us consider the case of two examiners A and B evaluating answer sheets of 20 students in a class and marking each of them as “pass” or “fail,” with each examiner passing half the students. [Table 1] shows three different situations that may happen. In situ ation 1 in this table, eight students receive a “pass” grade from both the examiners, eight receive a “fail” grade from both the examiners, and four receive pass grade from one examiner but “fail” grade from the other (two passed by A and the other two by B). Thus, the two examiners' results agree for 16/20 students (agreement = 16/20 = 0.80, disagreement = 4/20 = 0.20). This seems quite good. However, this fails to take into account that some of the grades may have been guesswork and that the agreement may have occurred just by chance.
Table 1: Results of 20 students, each evaluated independently by two examiners

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Let us now consider a hypothetical situation where examiners do exactly this, i.e., assign grades by tossing a coin; heads = pass, tails = fail [Table 1], Situation 2]. In that case, one would expect 25% (=0.50 × 0.50) of students to receive pass grade from both and another 25% to receive “fail” grade from both – an overall “expected” agreement rate for “pass” or “fail” of 50% (=0.25 + 0.25 = 0.50). Hence, the observed agreement rate (80% in situ ation 1) needs to be interpreted keeping in mind that 50% agreement was expected purely by chance. These examiners could have bettered this by 50% (best possible agreement minus the agreement expected by chance = 100%−50% =50%), but achieved only 30% (observed agreement minus the agreement expected by chance = 80%−50% =30%). Thus, their real performance in being concordant is 30%/50% = 60%.

Of course, they could theoretically have performed worse than what was expected by chance. For instance, in situ ation 3 [Table 1], even though each of them passed 50% of students, their grades agreed for only 4 of the 20 students – far fewer than that expected even by chance!

It is important to note that, in each of the three situations in [Table 1], the pass percentages for the two examiners are equal, and if the two examiners are compared using a usual 2 × 2 test for paired data (McNemar's test), one would find no difference between their performances; by contrast, the inter-observer agreement in the three situations is widely different. The basic concept to be understood here is that “agreement” quantifies the concordance between the two examiners for each of the “pairs” of scores and not the similarity of the overall pass percentage between the examiners.


   Methods Used to Measure Agreement Top


The statistical methods used to assess agreement vary depending on the type of variable being studied and the number of observers between whom agreement is sought to be assessed. These are summarized in [Table 2] and discussed below.
Table 2: Methods used for assessment of agreement between observers depending on the type of variable measured and the number of observers

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   Assessing Agreement between Measurements of Categorical Variables Top


Two observers assessing the same binary outcome (Cohen's kappa)

Cohen's kappa (κ) calculates inter-observer agreement taking into account the expected agreement by chance as follows:

κ = (observed agreement [Po] – expected agreement [Pe])/(1-expected agreement [Pe]).

In the above example [Table 1], Situation 1], Cohen's k = (0.80 − 0.50)/(1 − 0.50) = 0.30/0.50 = 0.60.

The κ statistic can take values from − 1 to 1, and is interpreted somewhat arbitrarily as follows: 0 = agreement equivalent to chance; 0.10–0.20 = slight agreement; 0.21–0.40 = fair agreement; 0.41–0.60 = moderate agreement; 0.61–0.80 = substantial agreement; 0.81–0.99 = near-perfect agreement; and 1.00 = perfect agreement. Negative values indicate that the observed agreement is worse than what would be expected by chance. An alternative interpretation offered is that kappa values below 0.60 indicate a significant level of disagreement.

Cohen's κ can also be used when the same rater evaluates the same patients at two time points (say 2 weeks apart) or, in the example above, grades the same answer sheets again after 2 weeks. Its limitations are: (i) it does not take into account the magnitude of differences, making it unsuitable for ordinal data, (ii) it cannot be used if there are more than two raters, and (iii) it does not differentiate between agreement for positive and negative findings – which may be important in clinical situations (e.g., wrongly diagnosing a disease versus wrongly excluding it may have different consequences).

Variations of Cohen's κ

Weighted kappa

For ordinal data, where there are more than two categories, it is useful to know if the ratings by different raters varied by a small degree or by a large amount. For example, microbiologists may rate bacterial growth on culture plates as: none, occasional, moderate, or confluent. Here, ratings of a particular plate by two reviewers as “occasional” and “moderate,” respectively, would imply a lower level of discordance than if these ratings were “no growth” and “confluent,” respectively. The weighted Kappa statistic takes this difference into account. It thus yields a higher value when the raters' responses correspond more closely, with the maximum scores for perfect agreement; conversely, a larger difference in two ratings provides a lower value of weighted kappa. Techniques for assigning weightage to the difference between categories (linear, quadratic) can vary.

Fleiss' kappa

This method is used when ratings by more than two observers are available for either binary or ordinal data.


   Assessing Agreement between Measurements of Continuous Variables Top


Two methods are available for assessing agreement between measurements of a continuous variable across observers, instruments, time points, etc. One of these, namely intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), provides a single measure of the extent of agreement, and the other, namely Bland–Altman plot, in addition, provides a quantitative estimate of how closely the values from two measurements lie.

Intra-class correlation coefficient

Let us think of two ophthalmologists measuring intraocular pressure using a tonometer. Each patient will thus have two readings – one by each observer. ICC provides an estimate of overall concordance between these readings. It is somewhat akin to “analysis of variance” in that it looks at the between-pair variances expressed as a proportion of the total variance of the observations (i.e., the total variability in “2n” observations, which would be expected to be the sum of within- and between-pair variances). The ICC can take a value from 0 to 1, with 0 indicating no agreement and 1 indicating perfect agreement.

Bland–Altman plots

When two instruments or techniques are used to measure the same variable on a continuous scale, the Bland–Altman plots can be used to estimate agreement. This plot is a scatter plot of the difference between the two measurements (Y-axis) against the average of the two measurements (X-axis). Thus, it provides a graphical display of bias (mean difference between the two observers or techniques) with 95% limits of agreement. The latter are given by the formula:

Limits of agreement = mean observed difference ± 1.96 × standard deviation of observed differences.

Consider a situation where we wish to assess the agreement between hemoglobin measurements (in g/dL) using a bedside hemoglobinometer and the formal photometric laboratory technique in ten persons [Table 3]. The Bland–Altman plot for these data shows the difference between the two methods for each person [Figure 1]. The mean difference between the values is 1.07 g/dL (with standard deviation of 0.36 g/dL), and the 95% limits of agreement are 0.35–1.79. What this implies is that hemoglobin level of a particular person measured by photometry could vary from that measured by the bedside method from as little as 0.35 g/dL higher to as much as 1.79 g/dL higher (this is the case for 95% of individuals; for 5% of individuals, variations could be outside these limits). This obviously means that the two techniques cannot be used as substitutes for one another. Importantly, there is no uniform criterion for what constitutes acceptable limits of agreement; this is a clinical decision and depends on the variable being measured.
Table 3: Hemoglobin measurements in ten patients using two different methods

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Figure 1: Bland–Altman plot for data shown in Table 3. The upper and lower limits of agreement are generally drawn at 1.96 (roughly 2) standard deviations (of observed inter-observer differences) above and below the line representing the mean difference (solid line); these dotted lines are expected to enclose 95% of the observed inter-observer differences

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   Points to Remember Top


Correlation versus agreement

As alluded to above, correlation is not synonymous with agreement. Correlation refers to the presence of a relationship between two different variables, whereas agreement looks at the concordance between two measurements of one variable. Two sets of observations, which are highly correlated, may have poor agreement; however, if the two sets of values agree, they will surely be highly correlated. For instance, in the hemoglobin example, even though the agreement is poor, the correlation coefficient between values from the two methods is high [Figure 2]; (r = 0.98). The other way to look at it is that, though the individual dots are not fairly close to the dotted line (least square line;[2] indicating good correlation), these are quite far from the solid black line, which represents the line of perfect agreement ([Figure 2]: the solid black line). In case of good agreement, the dots would be expected to fall on or near this (the solid black) line.
Figure 2: Scatter plot showing correlation between hemoglobin measurements from two methods for data shown in Table 3 and Figure 1. The dotted line is a trend line (least squares line) through the observed values, and the correlation coefficient is 0.98. However, the individual dots are far away from the line of perfect agreement (solid black line)

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Use of paired tests to assess agreement

For all the three situations shown in [Table 1], the use of McNemar's test (meant for comparing paired categorical data) would show no difference. However, this cannot be interpreted as an evidence of agreement. The McNemar's test compares overall proportions; therefore, any situation where the overall proportion of pass/fail by the two examiners is similar (e.g., situations 1, 2, and 3 in [Table 1]) would result in a lack of difference. Similarly, the paired t-test compares mean difference between two observations in a group. It can therefore be nonsignificant if the average difference between the paired values is small, even though the differences between two observers for individuals are large.


   Suggested Reading Top


The readers are referred to the following papers that feature measures of agreement:

  1. Qureshi et al. compared the grade of prostatic adenocarcinoma as assessed by seven pathologists using a standard system (Gleason's score).[3] Concordance between each pathologist and the original report and between pairs of pathologists was determined using Cohen's kappa. It is a useful example. However, we feel that, Gleason's score being an ordinal variable, weighted kappa might have been a more appropriate choice
  2. Carlsson et al. looked at inter- and intra-observer variability in Hand Eczema Extent Score in patients with hand eczema.[4] Inter- and intra-observer reliability was assessed using the ICC
  3. Kalantri et al. looked at the accuracy and reliability of pallor as a tool for detecting anemia.[5] They concluded that “Clinical assessment of pallor can rule out and modestly rule in severe anemia.” However, the inter-observer agreement for detecting pallor was very poor (kappa values = 0.07 for conjunctival pallor and 0.20 for tongue pallor) which means that pallor is an unreliable sign for diagnosing anemia.


Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Ranganathan P, Pramesh CS, Aggarwal R. Common pitfalls in statistical analysis: Logistic regression. Perspect Clin Res 2017;8:148-51.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
2.
Aggarwal R, Ranganathan P. Common pitfalls in statistical analysis: The use of correlation techniques. Perspect Clin Res 2016;7:187-90.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
3.
Qureshi A, Lakhtakia R, AL Bahri M, Al Haddabi I, Saparamadu A, Shalaby A, et al. Gleason's grading of prostatic adenocarcinoma: Inter-observer variation among seven pathologists at a tertiary care center in Oman. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2016;17:4867-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Carlsson A, Svensson Š, Anderson CD, Baranovskaya I, Hindsén-Stenström M, Holt I, et al. Scoring of hand eczema: Good reliability of hand eczema extent score (HEES). Acta Derm Venereol 2017;97:193-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Kalantri A, Karambelkar M, Joshi R, Kalantri S, Jajoo U. Accuracy and reliability of pallor for detecting anaemia: A hospital-based diagnostic accuracy study. PLoS One 2010;5:e8545.  Back to cited text no. 5
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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49 A Critical Overview of Systematic Reviews of Chemotherapy for Advanced and Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer using both AMSTAR2 and ROBIS as Quality Assessment Tools
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51 Characteristics of Acute Childhood Illness Apps for Parents: Environmental Scan
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52 Autism spectrum disorder and obstetric optimality: a twin study and meta-analysis of sibling studies
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53 Self-collected and clinician-collected anal swabs show modest agreement for HPV genotyping
Racheal S. Dube Mandishora,Trine B. Rounge,Megan Fitzpatrick,Irene Kraus Christiansen,Ole Herman Ambur,Sonja Lagström,Babill Stray-Pedersen,Massimo Tommasino,Joel Palefsky,Zvavahera M. Chirenje,Michael Scheurer
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56 A smartphone application to objectively monitor music listening habits in adolescents
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57 High PDGFRb Expression Predicts Resistance to Radiotherapy in DCIS within the SweDCIS Randomized Trial
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58 Validation of a novel patient-operated device for measuring skin barrier function in atopic dermatitis
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59 Early perceptions and behavioural responses during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional survey of UK adults
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60 Validating Ellipsoid Zone Area Measurement With Multimodal Imaging in Choroideremia
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61 An Intervention-Related Comparison of Preschoolers’ Scores on the TGMD-2 and TGMD-3
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62 Response to Letter to the Editor Titled Remote Fiberoptic Nasopharyngolaryngoscopy in the Pediatric Population: Methodological Issues on Reliability and Accuracy
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63 Chest radiograph-based artificial intelligence predictive model for mortality in community-acquired pneumonia
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64 Primer on binary logistic regression
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65 A Pilot Study of Detecting Individual Sleep Apnea Events Using Noncontact Radar Technology, Pulse Oximetry, and Machine Learning
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66 Validation of the telephone-based assessment of locomotion ability after stroke
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67 A Novel Application of the Modified Angoff Method to Rate Case Difficulty in Simulation-Based Research
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68 Karnofsky Performance Score—Failure to Thrive as a Frailty Proxy?
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69 Evaluating the influence of action- and subject-specific factors on chimpanzee action copying
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70 Phone-based monitoring to evaluate health policy and program implementation in Kenya
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71 Distinguishing sleep from wake with a radar sensor: a contact-free real-time sleep monitor
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72 What’s in a name? The meaning of sustainability to destination managers
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73 Dynamics of methylated cell-free DNA in the urine of non-small cell lung cancer patients
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74 Bioelectrical impedance analysis versus quantitative computer tomography and anthropometry for the assessment of body composition parameters in China
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75 Livelayer: a semi-automatic software program for segmentation of layers and diabetic macular edema in optical coherence tomography images
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76 Beyond Percent Correct: Measuring Change in Individual Picture Naming Ability
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77 Functional Communication Abilities in Youth With Cerebral Palsy: Association With Impairment Profiles and School-Based Therapy Goals
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78 Disentangling the Psycholinguistic Loci of Anomia with Cognitive Psychometric Models
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79 Accuracy and Safety of Image-Guided Freehand Pin Placement in Canine Cadaveric Vertebrae
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81 Are subjective measures the answer to assess physical inactivity on a daily basis in patients with resistant hypertension?
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82 Teledermatología en Chile: experiencia de su implementación temprana
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83 Development and Initial Evaluation of Psychometric Properties of a Pain Competence Assessment Tool (PCAT)
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84 Clinical Simulation Model of Fibrinogen Decline During Hemorrhage in Major Noncardiac Surgery
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85 Minor migrants’ age estimation: Comparison of two dental methods
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86 The reliability of radiographic measures of total ankle replacement position: an analysis from the OARS cohort
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87 Comparing video observation to electronic topography device as a method for measuring cigarette puffing behavior
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88 Wearable technology-delivered lifestyle intervention amongst adults with overweight and obese: A systematic review and meta-regression
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89 Cariprazine and akathisia, restlessness, and extrapyramidal symptoms in patients with bipolar depression
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90 MRI in the Assessment of TMJ-Arthritis in Children with JIA; Repeatability of a Newly Devised Scoring System
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91 Detection of EGFR mutations in liquid biopsy samples using allele-specific quantitative PCR: A comparative real-world evaluation of two popular diagnostic systems
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92 Incorporating personal-device-based point-of-care ultrasound into obstetric care: a validation study
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93 Absence of relevant clinical effects of SARS-COV-2 on the affinity of hemoglobin for O2 in patients with COVID-19
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94 Ausencia de efectos clínicos destacables del SARS-CoV-2 sobre la afinidad de la hemoglobina por el O2 en pacientes con COVID-19
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95 Evaluation of the quality of ‘do not use’ medication abbreviation audits: a key enabler to successful implementation of audit and feedback
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96 Determining leaf nutrient concentrations in citrus trees using UAV imagery and machine learning
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97 Prognostic and predictive impact of stroma cells defined by PDGFRb expression in early breast cancer: results from the randomized SweBCG91RT trial
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98 The Rosenberg view and coronal stress radiographs give similar measurements of articular cartilage height in knees with osteoarthritis
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99 Correlation does not imply agreement: A cautionary tale for researchers and reviewers
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100 The power of knowledge about dementia in Latin America across health professionals working on aging
Agustin Ibanez, Daniel Flichtentrei, Eugenia Hesse, Martin Dottori, Ailin Tomio, Andrea Slachevsky, Cecilia M Serrano, Christian Gonzalez-Billaut, Nilton Custodio, Claudia Miranda, Julian Bustin, Marcelo Cetckovitch, Fernando Torrente, Loreto Olavarria, Tomas Leon, Barbara Costa Beber, Sonia Bruki, Claudia K. Suemoto, Ricardo Nitrini, Bruce L. Miller, Jennifer S. Yokoyama
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101 Comparison of three equations for estimating low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol in the rural northeastern region of Thailand
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102 Self and parent-proxy rated health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in youth with obesity: are parents good surrogates?
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103 Zur Reliabilität von Wearable Devices am Beispiel einer Premium Multisport-Smartwatch
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104 Deep learning to find colorectal polyps in colonoscopy: A systematic literature review
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105 Agroview: Cloud-based application to process, analyze and visualize UAV-collected data for precision agriculture applications utilizing artificial intelligence
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106 Using open-source software and digital imagery to efficiently and objectively quantify cover density of an invasive alien plant species
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107 Clinical Competence Assessed Using Simulation: Development of a Standardized Tool to Assess Nutrition-Focused Physical Exam Skill Competence for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists
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108 Predicting Mid-Air Gestural Interaction with Public Displays based on Audience Behaviour
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109 Self-Determination Theory to observe healthcare professionals’ counselling in chronic care encounters: development of the COUNSEL-CCE tool
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111 Fibroblasts in urothelial bladder cancer define stroma phenotypes that are associated with clinical outcome
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112 Alchemical Hydration Free-Energy Calculations Using Molecular Dynamics with Explicit Polarization and Induced Polarity Decoupling: An On–the–Fly Polarization Approach
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113 A Simple Method for Including Polarization Effects in Solvation Free Energy Calculations When Using Fixed-Charge Force Fields: Alchemically Polarized Charges
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114 Predictors of volitional motor recovery with epidural stimulation in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury
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115 Assessing the Importance and Cognition Level of ACCE’s Student Learning Outcomes: Industry, Educator, and Student Perceptions
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116 Disc-fovea Angle Is Associated With Visual Field Defect Location in Patients With Glaucoma
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117 Test-retest reliability of a self-reported physical activity environment instrument for use in rural settings
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118 Validation of sleep stage classification using non-contact radar technology and machine learning (Somnofy®)
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119 Tooth Shade Preferences among the General Public
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120 Accuracy and Reliability of the Visual Assessment of Patellar Tracking
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121 Comparison of a rapid immunochromatographic test with a chemiluminescence immunoassay for detection of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG
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122 Predicting Metastatic Potential in Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma: A Comparison of PASS and GAPP Scoring Systems
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123 Comparison of radiographer interobserver image registration variability using cone beam CT and MR for cervix radiotherapy
John Rodgers,Rosie Hales,Lee Whiteside,Jacqui Parker,Louise McHugh,Anthea Cree,Marcel van Herk,Ananya Choudhury,Peter Hoskin,Alan McWilliam,Cynthia L Eccles
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124 Brucellosis in food-producing animals in Mosul, Iraq: A systematic review and meta-analysis
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125 Disclosing Main authors and Organisations collaborations in bioprinting through network maps analysis
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126 Evaluation of intra- and interobserver reliability in the assessment of the ‘critical trochanter angle’
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127 Geospatial analysis of environmental noise levels in a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria
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128 A Pilot Study of the Reliability and Agreement of Heart Rate, Respiratory Rate and Short-Term Heart Rate Variability in Elite Modern Pentathlon Athletes
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129 CT Angiography in Evaluating Large-Vessel Occlusion in Acute Anterior Circulation Ischemic Stroke: Factors Associated with Diagnostic Error in Clinical Practice
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130 Real world safety of bevacizumab in cancer patients: A systematic literature review of case reports
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131 Reliability of P3 Event-Related Potential During Working Memory Across the Spectrum of Cognitive Aging
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132 Rapid Administration of High-Dose Intravenous Methylprednisolone Improves Visual Outcomes After Optic Neuritis in Patients With AQP4-IgG-Positive NMOSD
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133 Predicting Poor Outcome Before Endovascular Treatment in Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke
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134 CancerGram: An Effective Classifier for Differentiating Anticancer from Antimicrobial Peptides
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135 Validity of an inertial system for measuring velocity, force, and power during hamstring exercises performed on a flywheel resistance training device
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[Pubmed] | [DOI]
136 Investigation of Cervical Tumor Biopsies for Chromosomal Loss of Heterozygosity (LOH) and Microsatellite Instability (MSI) at the HLA II Locus in HIV-1/HPV Co-infected Women
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137 Validity of Wrist-Worn Activity Trackers for Estimating VO2max and Energy Expenditure
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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019; 16(17): 3037
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
138 Reply to “Diagnostic Value of CT in Detecting Peripheral Zone Prostate Cancer: Methodologic Issues to Avoid Misinterpretation”
Paraskevi A. Vlachou
American Journal of Roentgenology. 2019; 213(6): W298
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
139 Classifications in Brief
Hamza Murtaza,Connor W. Sullivan
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 2019; 477(12): 2798
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
140 Applicability of a field portable X-ray fluorescence for analyzing elemental concentration of waste samples
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141 Prediction of Alkanolamine pKa Values by Combined Molecular Dynamics Free Energy Simulations and ab Initio Calculations
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142 Lobular neoplasia and invasive lobular breast cancer: Inter-observer agreement for histological grading and subclassification
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143 Methodological aspects when assessing the inter-rater reliability of medication error classification – A response to a letter to editor
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144 Standardization and reproducibility of sonographic stomach position grades in fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia
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145 Do magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities of the non-dominant wrist correlate with ulnar-sided wrist pain in elite tennis players?
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