Protocol - Hand Dominance - 42 Months and Older

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The protocol consists of questions to determine which hand the participant uses for a series of activities. Adults will assist children beginning at 42 months of age.

Specific Instructions

A parent or an adult proxy for the child beginning at 42 months of age is asked a series of questions about the activities of the child and whether he or she performs these activities using one or both hands.


The following protocol is part of a personal interview in which the parent reports about the child. Child handedness is assessed by parental report about the child beginning at the age of 42 months. Parents report on whether the child uses his/her left hand, right hand, or both for the following four items: 1) drawing; 2) throwing a ball; 3) coloring; 4) holding a toothbrush. If the parent indicates "either" for all four activities, the child is classified as mixed-handed. Children who use the same hand for three or four activities are classified according to that hand. Children who use the right hand for two activities and the left hand for the other two activities are recorded as mixed-handed. The protocol also assigned mixed-handedness to children with the following patterns, respectively (from list above): eerl, rrel, ller (where r = right, l = left, e = either). Children with the patterns rree and llee are classified as right-handed and left-handed, respectively. The protocol also classifies children for whom one activity is missing: children with the patterns rrr, rrl, rre are classified as right-handed; children with the patterns lll, llr, lle are classified as left-handed; and children with the patterns eee, eel, eer, rle are classified as mixed-handed.

Note: The child question was modified from being asked of the mother to being asked of either parent.



Personnel and Training Required

The trained interviewer should be able to administer a questionnaire and be able to probe for information as necessary.

Equipment Needs


Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Interviewer-administered questionnaire




This measure includes two protocols, each relating to a specific age of the participant. Consistent hand dominance starts to develop between 2 and 3 years of age and is usually completed by 6 years of age. Hand preference that appears before the age of 18 months may signal impaired neurological control of the other hand.

Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Protocol (ALSPAC)
Child beginning at 42 months of age

Edinburgh Handedness Inventory
Participant aged 12 years and older

Selection Rationale

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Protocol (ALSPAC) protocol was selected because of the age-appropriate activities described.



caDSR Common Data Elements (CDE) Preference Hand Laterality 2180147 CDE Browser
Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Hand dom- 12Y proto EHI 56101-9 LOINC
Human Phenotype Ontology Laterality HP:0012831 HPO
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #1 reviewed the measures in the Anthropometrics, Diabetes, Physical Activity and Physical Fitness, and Nutrition and Dietary Supplements domains.

Guidance from the ERP includes:

• Revised descriptions of measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Protocol Name from Source

Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Protocol (ALSPAC) & Edinburgh Handedness Inventory, 2004


Glover, V., OConnor, T., Heron, J., & Golding, J. (2004). Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) protocol Edinburgh Handedness Inventory scoring method. Early Human Development, 79, 107-118.

General References

Porac, C., & Coren, S. (1981). Lateral preferences and human behavior. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX020601030000 Child hand used in coloring N/A
PX020601010000 Child hand used in drawing N/A
PX020601040000 Child hand used in holding a toothbrush Variable Mapping
PX020601020000 Child hand used in throwing a ball Variable Mapping
Measure Name

Hand Dominance

Release Date

March 27, 2009


Dominance is measured to assess the movement, mobility, and flexibility of an individual to determine which side of the body the study subject favors or the strength of hand activity.


This measure is used to determine which hand is dominant or more skilled for fine motor tasks than the other. Of the general population, about 90% have right hand dominance, about 10% have left hand dominance, and about 1% are mixed-handed or can use either hand interchangeably to complete a fine motor task (Porac & Coren, 1981). Hand dominance is thought to be influenced by genetics, and loci for relative hand skill have been mapped.


Anthropometrics, dominance, handedness, ambidextrous, ALSPAC

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
20601 Hand Dominance - 42 Months and Older
20602 Hand Dominance - 12 Years and Older

There are no publications listed for this protocol.