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Ann Clin Biochem. 1979 Jul;16(4):169-76.

Temporal changes in the concentrations of serum constituents in healthy men. Distributions of within-person variances and their relevance to the interpretation of differences between successive measurements.


The distributions of within-person variances in the concentrations of 10 commonly assayed serum constituents have been derived from data on 37 healthy male subjects studied at weekly intervals over a period of five months. All 10 distributions appear to be of log-normal form. The relevance of the findings to the interpretation of differences between serial measurements in a given individual is discussed. Examples are given to show how the information on within-person variances for a particular analyte, organised into a simple graph, may be used to test medical opinions on threshold values for serial changes in the concentration of this analyte in a given individual. In this way, biological variability as well as analytical error may be taken into account quantitatively when assessing the significance of a difference between two serial measurements.

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