An attempt is made to characterize quantitatively the several components of variation existing in the determination of total lung capacity (TLC) by a radiological method. An analysis of variance indicates that over 94 percent of the total variation could be attributed to film differences, the remaining 6 percent being a consequence of interobserver and intraobserver variation and the inherent random variability. It is shown that a relative error of about 5.8 percent could be expected with one observer making one determination for each set of films. An error of this magnitude compares favorably with other methods for determining TLC. TLC determined by this method is considered repeatable and consequently useful in large scale epidemiological studies.
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