Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 422–425 | Cite as

Visual estimation of patients’ body weight in hospital: the more observers, the better?

  • Sylvain GoutelleEmail author
  • Laurent Bourguignon
  • Nathalie Bertrand-Passeron
  • Roger W. Jelliffe
  • Pascal Maire
Short Research Report


Objective Patients are not always weighed in hospitals. A visual estimate of patients’ body weight is often used. Little information exists about the validity of this practice. We assessed the visual estimation of body weight in a population of elderly hospitalised patients. Method Three observers performed a visual estimation of weight in 71 geriatric patients. Estimated body weights from each observer were compared to measured body weights. Various panels—three panels of two observers and two panels of three observers—were also evaluated. Results Overall results showed that a three observer panel gave better weight estimates than one or two individuals. Conclusion While further clinical studies are necessary to confirm these findings, using the mean or the median of several visual estimates may be a practical solution for body weight estimation when weighing patients is not possible.


Body weight Geriatrics Predictive performance Visual estimation 



The authors thank Susana Guerreiro and Carolina Marques from School of Pharmacy of Coimbra, Portugal, for their help in collecting the data. Dr Julie Feuillet-Burdin and Dr Michel Ducher from ADCAPT—Service Pharmaceutique, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Hôpital Antoine Charial, Francheville, are also gratefully acknowledged for their suggestions during the preparation of the manuscript.


This work was not supported by any academic, company or sponsor fund.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvain Goutelle
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Laurent Bourguignon
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nathalie Bertrand-Passeron
    • 1
    • 4
  • Roger W. Jelliffe
    • 5
  • Pascal Maire
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Hospices Civils de Lyon, Hôpital Antoine Charial, ADCAPT – Service PharmaceutiqueFranchevilleFrance
  2. 2.Université Lyon 1LyonFrance
  3. 3.Biométrie et Biologie EvolutiveUMR CNRS 5558Villeurbanne CedexFrance
  4. 4.National Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryUniversity College London Hospitals – NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK
  5. 5.Laboratory of Applied Pharmacokinetics, Keck School of Medicine, Division of Geriatric MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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