Measurement variability and sincerity of effort: clinical utility of isokinetic strength coefficient of variation scores Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Although the use of measures of strength variability as a means of judging sincerity of effort is becoming common practice, the accuracy of doing so has been questioned. Coefficient of variation (CV) cut-off points, indicating the upper limit of variability for repeated maximal efforts, are routinely used to identify workers providing submaximal efforts during various strength tests. However, the stability of the CV itself has not been considered when comparing an individual's observed CV score to these cut-off points. The purpose of the present study was to examine the day-to-day variability of the CV calculated from maximal isokinetic knee extension efforts, and to describe how this measurement error affects the accuracy of the CV as a distinguishing criterion between maximal and submaximal efforts. Thirty-one healthy males (mean age 25 +/- 4.5 years) completed three maximal and three submaximal isokinetic knee extension efforts on two separate occasions. Although submaximal CVs were significantly greater than maximal CVs (15.6 versus 3.7%; p < 0.01), there was considerable overlap between submaximal and maximal CV frequency distributions. More importantly, an individual observed CV could vary +/- 3.1% as a result of day-to-day variation or measurement error. This range in possible CV scores should be considered when comparing an individual's score to proposed cut-off points. Since individual CVs vary considerably from day-to-day, and since precise cut-off values distinguishing between maximal and submaximal conditions cannot be identified, CV scores must be interpreted cautiously, and the potential errors in relying extensively on this approach to identifying insincere efforts should be recognised.


  • MacDermid, Joy

publication date

  • June 1998