Peripheral thermometry: Agreement between non-touch infrared versus traditional modes in an adult population

Penelope Sweeting, Minakshi Murphy, Sadie Geraghty, Maree Duddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To test whether infrared non-touch forehead thermometry (FNTT) obtains comparable temperature readings in adults compared with common, non-invasive thermometry methods such as axillary (DAT), oral (DOT) and infrared tympanic (ITT). Design: A prospective, repeated-measures comparative diagnostic test study design was used for this study. 

Methods: Data were collected from a convenience sample of 169 nursing students over 3 months (March 2019 to May 2019). Participants had their temperature measured once with each of the four thermometers. Agreement between thermometers was assessed using repeated-measures analysis of variance with Bonferroni post hoc testing.

Results/findings: One hundred and sixty-one participants were included in the final analysis. A repeated-measures ANOVA showed statistically significant differences between the four thermometer temperature readings. Post hoc pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni adjustment revealed infrared non-touch forehead thermometry demonstrated statistically significant higher mean temperatures compared with digital oral thermometry MD = 0.466℃ (95% CI, 0.357–0.576, p <.001) and digital axillary thermometry MD = 0.897℃ (95% CI, 0.752–1.043, p <.001), but not with infrared tympanic MD = 0.069℃ (95% CI, −0.025–0.162, p =.307). 

Conclusions: This study found that infrared non-touch forehead thermometry consistently produced higher temperature readings in adults compared with other common forms of peripheral thermometry. Caution should be taken when using forehead non-touch thermometer readings interchangeably with digital oral and digital axillary readings unless corrections for bias are made. More research is needed into whether infrared non-touch forehead thermometry and infrared tympanic could be used interchangeably. 

Impact statement: This study aimed to address whether non-touch forehead could be used interchangeably with other common forms of non-invasive thermometry. Our result revealed inconsistencies in temperature readings between the different thermometers. Consequently, healthcare professionals should exercise caution when monitoring temperature trends where readings have been taken by different types of peripheral thermometers. This study could impact healthcare clinicians responsible for the monitoring and recording of peripheral temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-433
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number2
Early online dateJul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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