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March 10, 1993


Author Affiliations

Cleveland, Ohio

JAMA. 1993;269(10):1249-1250. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500100047013

To the Editor.  —The critical appraisal of 37.0°C (98.6°F) by Mackowiak et al1 is a welcome examination of a health paradigm. Given the authors' comments about the challenges that Wunderlich had in measuring body temperature compared with today, it would be amazing if his conclusions were in fact exactly correct. I therefore applaud the authors' initiative to reopen this subject. However, I believe the authors have not come to statistically valid conclusions because of inappropriate sample size.In order to determine appropriate sample size when estimating the mean of anything there are at least two questions to consider: (1) How close do we want the estimate to be to the true value (eg, the true mean temperature ±0.05°F)? and (2) How much confidence do we want to place in the estimated mean (eg, do we want to be 90%, 95%, or 99% certain)? If we assume that human body