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The standards of medical statistics

Tony Elliman Tony.Elliman at brunel.ac.uk
Thu Feb 27 23:56:12 EST 1997


Vassili P. Leonov wrote:
> 
>                          Dear colleagues!
> 
>       I work in Tomsk State University (Russia, Siberia) and
>    more than 10 years I be busy in the statistical analysis
>    of data in medicine, biology, psychology, ecology and etc..
>    In these years I have collected large collection of examples
>    of misuse of statistics in the dissertations and articles.
>    Their analysis shows, that most of all errors in use of statistics
>    is observed in medicine and biology. Especially it is bad when
>    it is observed in medical work. Errors in use of statistics in
>    medicine resultin errors in methods treatments of the ill people.
>
> ...

I have been aware of the misuse of statistical methods
in medical research (bothh USA and UK) since starting
my doctoral work around 1980.  A key article which tries
to address this is:

Altman, D G (1980) Statistics and Ethics in Medical Research,
    British Medical Journal, vol 281 pp 1182-1184.

This is the first of a series in which he persues the notion
that poor statistical work is unethcal and looks at their
use. The subsequent parts are:

vol 281: p1267-9, p1336-8, p1399-401, p1473-5, p1542-4, p1612-4
vol 282: p44-47 plus letters p480 and p990

There is a strong ethos in medical publishing which suggests
that meaningfull research can only be done through controlled
trials with quantitative statistical otcomes.  This notion that
statistics are good (or do I mean God?) is very pervasive
and ignores other research methods.  With this sort of
preasure both authors and referees demand statistical results
even where there use is inappropriate and misleading.


-- 
Best wishes

Tony E

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Dr A D Elliman, BTech MBCS CEng      Email: Tony.Elliman at brunel.ac.uk
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