I fully agree with Dr Horton's comments concerning biostatistics in the current medical literature. As he notes, the statistical methods used in modern research reports are becoming increasingly complex, compounding the problem of poor clinician understanding of basic statistical concepts. Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that researchers often apply statistical techniques inappropriately, perhaps as a result of their own incomplete comprehension of the methodology.
Improving doctors' understanding of statistics.
As neatly stated by Altman,
Statistical reviewing for medical journals.
“the main reason for the plethora of statistical errors is that the majority of statistical analyses are performed by people with an inadequate understanding of statistical methods. They are then peer reviewed by people who are generally no more knowledgeable.”
This unfortunate inadequacy of knowledge on the part of both consumers and producers of the medical literature is inconsistent with medicine's goal of optimal decision making for patient care. Alternative approaches to statistical education are required, and I am hopeful that renewed attention to this problem will result in innovative efforts that aid practicing clinicians, researchers, and our patients.
Improving doctors' understanding of statistics.J R Stat Soc [A]. 1991; 154: 223-267
Statistical reviewing for medical journals.Stat Med. 1998; 17: 2661-2674
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