BACKGROUND: Anaemic status is determined by haemoglobin using the HemoCue system or haematocrit measurements, and a threefold conversion is commonly used to equate the two measures (haemoglobin = haematocrit/3). The validity of this conversion in malaria endemic settings was assessed.
METHODS: Concurrent measures of haemoglobin and centrifuged haematocrit in children aged 6-59 months were compared by modelling the difference between the two measures against their average. A random effects linear regression of the difference of the measures on their average was used to describe the line of best agreement and 95% limits of agreement for these two measures over a range of values after adjusting for statistically significant covariates.
RESULTS: There was a consistent bias between the two measures, with haemoglobin less than haematocrit/3 in 87% (899/1,030) of observations. This difference was non-uniform, decreasing with the average measure, i.e. less difference at higher haemoglobin and haematocrit values. In these studies, use of haematocrit would have underestimated the prevalence of anaemia by misclassifying 10% (89/920) of individuals with haemoglobin
CONCLUSION: The regression model indicated that the standard threefold conversion from haematocrit to haemoglobin underestimates the prevalence of haemoglobin
Malaria Journal (2007) 6: 67 [doi:10.1186/1475-2875-6-67]