Does a Novice Technician Produce Results Similar to That of an Experienced DXA Technician When Assessing Body Composition and Bone Mineral Density?

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is a commonly used clinical assessment tool for body composition and bone mineral density, which is gaining popularity in athletic cohorts. Results from body composition scans are useful for athletic populations to track training and nutritional interventions, while bone mineral density scans are valuable for athletes at risk of developing stress fractures due to low bone mineral density. However, no research has ascertained if a novice technician (accredited but not experienced) could produce similar results to an experienced technician. Two groups of recreational athletes were scanned, one by an experienced technician, one by a novice technician. All participants were scanned twice with repositioning between scans. The experienced technician’s reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .989–.998; percentage change in mean = −0.01 to 0.10), precision (typical error as coefficient of variation percentage = 0.01–0.47; SEM% = 0.61–1.39), and sensitivity to change (smallest real difference percentage = 1.70–3.85) were similar; however, superior to those of the novice technician. The novice technician results were reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .985–.997; percentage change in mean = −0.03 to 0.23), precision (typical error as coefficient of variation percentage = 0.03–0.75; SEM% = 1.06–2.12), and sensitivity to change (smallest real difference percentage = 2.73–5.86). Extensive experience, while valuable, is not a necessary requirement to produce quality results when undertaking whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning.

Persson, Shiel, and Furness are with the Faculty of Health Sciences & Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Climstein and Furness are with the Water Based Research Unit, Bond Institute of Health & Sport, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Climstein is also with the School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Lismore, New South Wales, Australia; and Exercise, Health & Performance Faculty Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Furness (jfurness@bond.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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