Sources of variability: A College of American Pathologists Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Survey Study

B. W. Steele, E. Wang, G. Palomaki, G. G. Klee, R. J. Elin, D. L. Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective. - To determine the magnitudes and sources of analytic variation in testing for therapeutic drugs. Specifically, among laboratories using the same analytic method, to compare the within-laboratory variation (including both short- and long-term variation) with the between-laboratory variation. Design. - Four identical challenges were prepared from a lyophilized pool of spiked sera and were sent in pairs 4 months apart to laboratories participating in a nationwide proficiency-testing program. For each of 25 drugs, the variability in reported results from laboratories using the same method was investigated using nested analysis of variance. Setting. - The first 2 mailings of the College of American Pathologists Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Survey, 1996, sets Z and ZM. Main Outcome Measures. - For each drug, total variance was partitioned into within- and between-laboratory components for common methods. The within-laboratory component was further partitioned into short- and long-term components. Participants. - The approximately 5000 laboratories enrolled in the survey. Results. - For the 25 drugs, the average percentages of the total variance due to short-term, within-laboratory variance; long-term, within-laboratory variance; between-laboratory variance; and total laboratory variance were 25.0% (range, 8.8-50.6%), 57.8% (35.3-73.7%), 17.3% (5.0-35.4%), and 82.7% (64.6-95.0%), respectively. Conclusion. - For all drugs tested, the within-laboratory component of variance was greater than the between-laboratory component of variance. Within laboratories, the magnitude of the long-term component was generally greater than the magnitude of the short-term component. This information will be helpful in determining the clinical utility of various drug assays and in evaluating the appropriateness of regulations involving therapeutic drug testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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