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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

PMXStan: an R package to facilitate Bayesian PKPD modeling with Stan

From Yuan Xiong, David A James, Fei He, and Wenping Wang at Novartis. Full version of the poster here.

An unconvincing analysis claiming to debunk the health benefits of moderate drinking

Daniel Lakeland writes: This study on alcohol consumption (by Craig Knott, Ngaire Coombs, Emmanuel Stamatakis, and Jane Biddulph) was written up in the BMJ editorials as “Alcohol’s Evaporating health benefits.” They conveniently show their data in a table, so that they can avoid graphing a “J” shape that they constantly allude to being wrong… But […]

Medical decision making under uncertainty

Gur Huberman writes: The following crossed my mind, following a recent panel discussion in which David Madigan participated on evidence-based medicine. The panel—especially John Iaonnidis—sang the praise of clinical trials. You may have nothing wise to say about it—or pose the question to your blog followers. Suppose there’s a standard clinical procedure to address a […]

Let’s apply for some of that sweet, sweet National Sanitation Foundation funding

Paul Alper pointed me to this news article about where the bacteria and fungi hang out on airplanes. This is a topic that doesn’t interest me at all, but then I noticed this, at the very end of the article: Note: A previous version of this article cited the National Science Foundation rather than the […]

Performing design calculations (type M and type S errors) on a routine basis?

Somebody writes writes: I am conducting a survival analysis (median follow up ~10 years) of subjects who enrolled on a prospective, non-randomized clinical trial for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma. The data were originally collected for research purposes and specifically to determine PFS and OS of the investigational regimen versus historic controls. The trial has been […]

A political sociological course on statistics for high school students

Ben Frisch writes: I am designing a semester long non-AP Statistics course for high school juniors and seniors. I am wondering if you had some advice for the design of my class. My currentthinking for the design of the class includes: 0) Brief introduction to R/ R Studio and descriptive statistics and data sheet structure. […]

Aahhhhh, young people!

Amusingly statistically illiterate headline from Slate: “Apple Notices That Basically Half the Population Menstruates.” Ummmm, let’s do a quick calculation: 50 – 12 = 38. If you assume the average woman lives to be 80, then the proportion of the population who is menstruating is approximately .52*38/80 = .247. 25% is hardly “basically half”! But […]

“Soylent 1.5” < black beans and yoghurt

Mark Palko quotes Justin Fox: On Monday, software engineer Rob Rhinehart published an account of his new life without alternating electrical current — which he has undertaken because generating that current “produces 32 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than any other economic sector.” Connection to the power grid isn’t all Rhinehart has given up. […]

Macartan Humphreys on the Worm Wars

My Columbia political science colleague shares “What Has Been Learned from the Deworming Replications: A Nonpartisan View”: Last month there was another battle in a dispute between economists and epidemiologists over the merits of mass deworming.1 In brief, economists claim there is clear evidence that cheap deworming interventions have large effects on welfare via increased […]

Classifying causes of death using “verbal autopsies”

Tyler McCormick sent along this paper, “Probabilistic Cause-of-death Assignment using Verbal Autopsies,” coauthored with Zehang Li, Clara Calvert, Amelia Crampin, Kathleen Kahn, and Samuel Clark: In areas without complete-coverage civil registration and vital statistics systems there is uncertainty about even the most basic demographic indicators. In such areas the majority of deaths occur outside hospitals […]

Pro Publica’s new Surgeon Scorecards

Skyler Johnson writes: You should definitely weigh in on this… Pro Publica created “Surgeon Scorecards” based upon risk adjusted surgery compilation rates. They used hierarchical modeling via the lmer package in R. For detailed methodology, click the methodology “how we calculated complications” link, then atop that next page click on the detailed methodology to download […]

Michael LaCour in 20 years

In case you were wondering what “Bruno” Lacour will be doing a couple decades from now . . . James Delaney pointed me to this CNN news article, “Connecticut’s strict gun law linked to large homicide drop” by Carina Storrs: The rate of gun-related murders fell sharply in the 10 years after Connecticut implemented a […]

Should you get the blood transfusion?

Gur Huberman writes: Apropos Ethics & Logistic Regression, the piece you wrote with Madigan: In late 2001 I [Gur] broke my femur trying to rollerblade with my daughter. (No IQ award for that.) I had surgery and my recovery was slow. Every time I tried to get on crutches I’d collapse and faint. Diagnosis: Anemia. […]

Stock, flow, and two smoking regressions

In a comment on our recent discussion of stock and flow, Tom Fiddaman writes: Here’s an egregious example of statistical stock-flow confusion that got published. Fiddaman is pointing to a post of his from 2011 discussing a paper that “examines the relationship between CO2 concentration and flooding in the US, and finds no significant impact.” […]

Can talk therapy halve the rate of cancer recurrence? How to think about the statistical significance of this finding? Is it just another example of the garden of forking paths?

James Coyne (who we last encountered in the sad story of Ellen Langer) writes: I’m writing to you now about another matter about which I hope you will offer an opinion. Here is a critique of a study, as well as the original study that claimed to find an effect of group psychotherapy on time […]

Social networks spread disease—but they also spread practices that reduce disease

I recently posted on the sister blog regarding a paper by Jon Zelner, James Trostle, Jason Goldstick, William Cevallos, James House, and Joseph Eisenberg, “Social Connectedness and Disease Transmission: Social Organization, Cohesion, Village Context, and Infection Risk in Rural Ecuador.” Zelner follows up: This made me think of my favorite figure from this paper, which […]

New research in tuberculosis mapping and control

Mapping and control. Or, as we would say, descriptive and causal inference. Jon Zelner informs os about two ongoing research projects: 1. TB Hotspot Mapping: Over the summer, I [Zelner] put together a really simple R package to do non-parametric disease mapping using the distance-based mapping approach developed by Caroline Jeffery and Al Ozonoff at […]

How is ethics like logistic regression?

Ethics decisions, like statistical inferences, are informative only if they’re not too easy or too hard. For the full story, read the whole thing.

Bayesian models, causal inference, and time-varying exposures

Mollie Wood writes: I am a doctoral student in clinical and population health research. My dissertation research is on prenatal medication exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children, and I’ve encountered a difficult problem that I hope you might be able to advise me on. I am working on a problem in which my main exposure […]

“The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail”

Russ Lyons points me to this recent magazine article by Martijn Katan and a research article, “Diet and Serum Cholesterol: Do zero correlations negate the relationship?” by David Jacobs, Joseph Anderson, and Henry Blackburn, and this video by Michael Greger. This is interesting stuff, especially as the ultimate truth is still very unknown. It’s good […]