Biological Measures in Nursing Research: A Discussion of Accuracy and Precision

Ying Mei Liu, Mei Ling Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review


In addition to psychological measures, nurse researchers have been working hard to integrate biological measures into their research in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of client health status. However, the fluctuating and interactive nature of biological systems makes biological measurement a significant challenge to researchers. To obtain objective and valid biological measurement results, it is important to ensure levels of accuracy and precision that are comparable to validity and reliability concepts current in the psychometrics field. The purpose of this article was to describe the concept and issue of accuracy and precision in biological measurement. To reduce measurement errors, researchers must understand the potential difficulties in measuring living organisms and the characteristics of biomedical devices used. The ultimate goal is to conduct biological measurements in a highly accurate and precise manner. The authors conducted a systematic overview of nursing studies that adopted biological measurement run between 2004 and 2008. Among the 42 eligible articles, 50% (n = 21) described both accuracy and precision of the biological measurement used, whereas 31% (n = 13) did neither. Findings suggest the importance of adequately describing accuracy and precision of biological measurement in nursing studies still needs to be emphasized in order to enhance nursing research rigor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 10 2009


  • Accuracy
  • Biological measures
  • Nursing research
  • Precision


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