Original Article

Validity of the Use of Wrist and Forehead Temperatures in Screening the General Population for COVID-19: A Prospective Real-World Study


Background: We aimed to compare the accuracy of individuals’ wrist and forehead temperatures with their tympanic temperature under different circumstances.

Methods: We performed a prospective observational study in a real-life population in Ningbo First Hospital in China. We consecutively recorded individuals’ wrist and forehead temperatures in Celsius (°C) using a noncontact infrared thermometer (NCIT). We also measured individuals’ tympanic temperature using a tympanic thermometer (IRTT) and defined fever as a tympanic temperature of ≥37.3 °C.

Results: We enrolled 528 participants, including 261 indoor and 267 outdoor participants. We grouped the outdoor participants into four groups according to their means of transportation to the hospital: by foot, by bicycle/electric vehicle, by car, or as a passenger in a car. Under different circumstances, the mean difference in the forehead measurement ranged from -1.72 to -0.56 °C across groups, and that in the wrist measurement ranged from -0.96 to -0.61°C. Both measurements had high fever screening abilities in indoor patients. (Wrist: AUC 0.790; 95% CI: 0.725-0.854, P<0.001; forehead: AUC 0.816; 95% CI: 0.757-0.876, P <0.001). The cut-off value of the wrist measurement for detecting a tympanic temperature of ≥37.3 °C was 36.2 °C, with 86.4% sensitivity and 67.0% specificity, and the best threshold for the forehead measurement was 36.2 °C, with 93.2% sensitivity and 60.0% specificity.

Conclusion: Wrist measurements are more stable than forehead measurements under different circumstances. Both measurements have favorable fever screening abilities in indoor patients. The cut-off values were both 36.2 °C.


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IssueVol 49 No Supple 1 (2020) QRcode
SectionOriginal Article(s)
DOI https://doi.org/10.18502/ijph.v49iS1.3670
COVID-19 Wrist temperature; Noncontact infrared thermometer

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How to Cite
CHEN G, XIE J, DAI G, ZHENG P, HU X, LU HL, XU L, CHEN X, CHEN X. Validity of the Use of Wrist and Forehead Temperatures in Screening the General Population for COVID-19: A Prospective Real-World Study. Iran J Public Health. 49(Supple 1):57-66.