Accuracy of Pacifier Thermometers in Young Children

Carie A. Braun, PhD, RN


Pediatr Nurs. 2006;32(5):413-418. 

In This Article


The average age of participant was 4.72 months (SD 3.12, range 1-11 months). The range of temperatures varied from 98.3°F-103°F for the rectal measurement and 97.7°F-103.2°F for the adjusted pacifier measurement. Using a paired samples t-test, difference scores (rectal temperature-[6-minute pacifier temperature + 0.5oF]) were calculated for each subject (see Table 1). The mean difference was 0.012°F (SD 0.777, range was -2.0 to +1.2). The 95% confidence interval for the difference scores was -0.309 to +0.333. There was no statistically significant (p=0.939) difference between the rectal and adjusted pacifier measurements (see Table 2).

The correlation between the rectal temperature and adjusted pacifier temperature was r=0.772 (see Table 2). The correlation was statistically significant. To correct for the potential bias inherent with a small sample size, an adjusted correlation coefficient was also computed. The adjusted correlation between rectal and pacifier temperature was radj=0.761. The close relationship between r and radj indicates a relatively unbiased correlation coefficient. There was also a strong correlation between the 3- and 6-minute pacifier thermometer measurements (r=0.913). Of the 25 children, 4 (16%) were febrile. Of these febrile subjects, final rectal and pacifier temperatures were very highly correlated (r=0.934). In this same group of febrile subjects, 3- and 6-minute pacifier readings were also highly correlated (r=1.00).

In regard to clinical reliability and utility, 88% of the rectal and adjusted pacifier temperature measurements were within 1.0°F. For 13 of 25 subjects (52%), the adjusted pacifier temperature was actually higher than the rectal temperature measurement by 0.2°F to 2.0°F (mean=0.6°F). In 2 patients, there was no difference between adjusted pacifier and rectal temperatures. The remaining infants had a higher rectal temperature than adjusted pacifier temperature. Specificity calculations indicated 86% of afebrile participants (n=18 out of 21) were correctly identified as afebrile. Sensitivity calculations were also performed; 3 out of 4 febrile subjects (75%) were correctly identified as febrile (100.4°F or higher, rectally). Table 3 outlines the concordance between rectal and adjusted pacifier temperatures based on febrile or afebrile status. Interestingly, 12% (n=3) of the subjects were determined to be febrile by the adjusted pacifier temperature and not the rectal temperature.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.