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Clinician Attitudes Toward Biostatistics–Reply–I

      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.
      • Altman DG
      • Bland JM
      Improving doctors' understanding of statistics.
      As neatly stated by Altman,
      • Altman DG
      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.

      REFERENCES

        • Altman DG
        • Bland JM
        Improving doctors' understanding of statistics.
        J R Stat Soc [A]. 1991; 154: 223-267
        • Altman DG
        Statistical reviewing for medical journals.
        Stat Med. 1998; 17: 2661-2674

      Linked Article

      • Clinician Attitudes Toward Biostatistics
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 82Issue 12
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          To the Editor: The article by West and Ficalora1 on clinician attitudes toward biostatistics raises important issues regarding training and continuing education of physicians in statistics. The authors found that more than two-thirds of their respondents at Mayo Clinic Rochester disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “the current level of medical training in biostatistics in medicine is adequate.”
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