Using the Coefficient of Variation

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Descriptive Statistics. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Using the Coefficient of Variation

In the clinical laboratory, the coefficient of variation is used for two main purposes:

  • to aid in the selection of a new method for routine use
  • to monitor the inherent variability (precision) of a method already in routine use
Selection of a new method for routine use requires comparative precision data. If the two methods being compared have different means and/or units, calculation of their CV's provides the comparison. (However, if two methods have the same units, and measure the same quantity, but have different means, this could be a sign that one of the instruments is miscalibrated.)