Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Original article

Vol. 142 No. 1920 (2012)

Accuracy of self-reported weight in a high risk geriatric population in the emergency department

  • Petra Finardi
  • Christian Hans Nickel
  • Michael Theodor Koller
  • Roland Bingisser
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2012;142:w13585


QUESTIONS UNDER STUDY / PRINCIPLES: Weight is important information in the emergency department (ED). Weight loss leads to an increase of mortality and is suggestive of morbidity. Correct weight is important for dosing of drugs to avoid toxicity and lack of effectiveness. Objective body weight measurement is often not possible in the emergency department. Especially in elderly ED patients, acute disease might have an impact on weight reporting. The objective of this study was to determine whether body weight reported by elderly patients presenting to the ED with non-specific symptoms is accurate.

METHODS: In 233 patients, measured weight was detected within patients’ medical record and was compared to reported weight at presentation in the ED.

RESULTS: The median age of the observed population was 74 years (IQR 72, 86). Comparison between estimated and measured weight showed a good agreement between the two measures (Pearson’s correlation coefficient r = 0.94). The mean difference between estimated and measured weight was small (+0.1 kg) whereas the range of the estimation error was between –10.9 and 11.1 kg. Age had no influence on the accuracy to predict the measured weight. Also, the correlation did not differ in patients with and without acute morbidity or between men and women.

CONCLUSIONS: Neither old age nor acute disease status impaired the strong correlation of reported and measured weight. Therefore, self reported weight can be used as approximation for real body weight in elderly ED patients presenting with non-specific complaints.


  1. Bauer JM, Wirth R, Volkert D, Werner H, Sieber CC. Malnutrition, sarcopenia and cachexia in the elderly: from pathophysiology to treatment. Conclusions of an international meeting of experts, sponsored by the BANSS Foundation. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2008;133(7):305–10.
  2. Newman AB, Yanez D, Harris T, Duxbury A, Enright PL, Fried LP. Weight change in old age and its association with mortality. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001;49(10):1309–18.
  3. Sullivan DH, Liu L, Roberson PK, Bopp MM, Rees JC. Body weight change and mortality in a cohort of elderly patients recently discharged from the hospital. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004;52(10):1696–701.
  4. Brott TG, Haley EC Jr, Levy DE, Barsan W, Broderick J, Sheppard GL, Spilker J, Kongable GL, Massey S, Reed R, et al. Urgent therapy for stroke. Part I. Pilot study of tissue plasminogen activator administered within 90 minutes. Stroke. 1992;23(5):632–40.
  5. Anglemyer BL, Hernandez C, Brice JH, Zou B. The accuracy of visual estimation of body weight in the ED. Am J Emerg Med. 2004;22(7):526–9.
  6. Menon S, Kelly AM. How accurate is weight estimation in the emergency department? Emerg Med Australas. 2005;17(2):113–6.
  7. Kuczmarski MF, Kuczmarski RJ, Najjar M. Effects of age on validity of self-reported height, weight, and body mass index: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001;101(1):28–34; quiz 5–6.
  8. Lawlor DA, Bedford C, Taylor M, Ebrahim S. Agreement between measured and self-reported weight in older women. Results from the British Women's Heart and Health Study. Age Ageing. 2002;31(3):169–74.
  9. Clément N, Businger A, Martinolli L, Zimmermann H, Exadaktylos AK. Referral practice among Swiss and non-Swiss walk-in patients in an urban surgical emergency department. Swiss Med Wkly. 2010;140:w13089.
  10. Graf CE, Giannelli SV, Herrmann FR, Sarasin FP, Michel JP, Zekry, et al. Identification of older patients at risk of unplanned readmission after discharge from the emergency department – Comparison of two screening tools. Swiss Med Wkly. 2012;141:w13327.
  11. Nemec M, Koller M, Nickel C, Maile S, Winterhalder C, Karrer C, et al. Patients presenting to the emergency department with non-specific complaints: the Basel Non-specific Complaints (BANC) study. Acad Emerg Med. 2010;17(3):284–92.
  12. Rutschmann OT, Chevalley T, Zumwald C, Luthy C, Vermeulen B, Sarasin FP. Pitfalls in the emergency department triage of frail elderly patients without specific complaints. Swiss Med Wkly. 2005;135(9–10):145–50.
  13. Dahl AK, Hassing LB, Fransson EI, Pedersen NL. Agreement between self-reported and measured height, weight and body mass index in old age-a longitudinal study with 20 years of follow-up. Age Ageing. 2010;39(4):445–51.
  14. Nawaz H, Chan W, Abdulrahman M, Larson D, Katz DL. Self-reported weight and height: implications for obesity research. Am J Prev Med. 2001;20(4):294–8.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>