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Continuous Variables

Continuous variables are considered as such because they may have an unlimited value between two points (Polit & Beck, 2017). Continuous variables are for example speed, distance, weight, temperature and age (McCue, 2015). Types of continuous variables that can be applied in the field of nursing are blood pressure reading, BMI, and potassium level. These are known as quantitative variables (Hoskin, n.d.)

A discrete variable is known as the type of data that can have a set value between two points (Polit & Beck, 2017). Examples of discrete values must be concrete and for this whole numbers are used to record the values. Examples of discrete variables include number of pregnancies, number of surgeries has had, number of houses sold by a realtor, number of patients seen at a clinic in a day and number of students that sign up for music class. Whole numbers are needed because for example, a realtor can sell 1 house but not 1.5 houses (Polit & Beck, 2017).

Categorical variables can be described as label as they place things into groups and order (UF Health, 2019). These are further subdivided into nominal or ordinal. Nominal categorical variables include gender, race, and hair color. Ordinal categorical variables include intensity of pain, and customer survey result. Dichotomous variables are considered those who fit into one of two categories such as gender for example, it can be female or female, a person can only be either dead or alive and time of day is either day or night (Polit & Beck, 2017).


Hoskin, T. (n.d.). Data Types. Retrieved May 10, 2020, from

McCue, C., (2015). Continuous Variable. Retrieved May 10, 2020, from

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Resource manual for nursing research: generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Types of Variables. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2020, from

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