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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

Some of the data from the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study

Dave Kane writes: You wrote about the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study here. The lead author, Anupam Jena, kindly provided some of the underlying data and a snippet of the code they used to me. You can see it all here. The data are here. I [Kane] wrote up a brief analysis, R Markdown […]

The moral hazard of quantitative social science: Causal identification, statistical inference, and policy

A couple people pointed me to this article, “The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime,” by Jennifer Doleac and Anita Mukherjee, which begins: The United States is experiencing an epidemic of opioid abuse. In response, many states have increased access to Naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered […]

The purpose of a pilot study is to demonstrate the feasibility of an experiment, not to estimate the treatment effect

David Allison sent this along: – Press release from original paper: “The dramatic decrease in BMI, although unexpected in this short time frame, demonstrated that the [Shaping Healthy Choices Program] SHCP was effective . . .” – Comment on paper and call for correction or retraction: “. . . these facts show that the analyses […]

The New England Journal of Medicine wants you to “identify a novel clinical finding”

Mark Tuttle writes: This is worth a mention in the blog. At least they are trying to (implicitly) reinforce re-analysis and re-use of data. Apparently, some of the re-use efforts will be published, soon. My reply: I don’t know enough about medical research to make any useful comments here. But there’s one bit that raises […]

No, I don’t believe that “Reduction in Firearm Injuries during NRA Annual Conventions” story

David Palmer writes: If you need yet another study to look at, check this out: “Reduction in Firearm Injuries during NRA Annual Conventions.”

Bayes for estimating a small effect in the context of large variation

Shira Mitchell and Mariel Finucane, two statisticians at Mathematica Policy Research (that’s the policy-analysis organization, not the Wolfram software company) write: We here at Mathematica have questions about priors for a health policy evaluation. Here’s the setting: In our dataset, healthcare (per person per month) expenditures are highly variable (sd = $2500), but from prior […]

Big Oregano strikes again

Paul Alper writes: You recall the University of Maryland chocolate milk cure for concussion [Bigmilk Strikes Again]. A new version of the same sloppiness is discussed here. Alper is linking to a news article, “University of Iowa ignores questions about its oregano ‘cure’ for cancer-wasting syndrome,” by Eric Holland, who writes: At the beginning of […]

“Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” and “The Narcissism Epidemic”: How can we think about the evidence?

Jay Livingston points to this hypey article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”, by Jean Twenge, who writes: I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years . . . Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. . . . [But] Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen […]

The graphs tell the story. Now I want to fit this story into a bigger framework so it all makes sense again.

Paul Alper points us to these graphs: Pretty stunning. I mean, really stunning. Why are we just hearing about this now, given that the pattern is a decade old? And what’s this: “Data for the U.S. ends in 2007”? Huh? Also, it’s surprising how high the rates were for Japan, Italy, and Germany in the […]

How to think about the risks from low doses of radon

Nick Stockton, a reporter for Wired magazine, sent me some questions about radiation risk and radon, and Phil and I replied. I thought our responses might be of general interest so I’m posting them here. First I wrote: Low dose risk is inherently difficult to estimate using epidemiological studies. I’ve seen no evidence that risk […]

One data pattern, many interpretations

David Pittelli points us to this paper: “When Is Higher Neuroticism Protective Against Death? Findings From UK Biobank,” and writes: They come to a rather absurd conclusion, in my opinion, which is that neuroticism is protective if, and only if, you say you are in bad health, overlooking the probability that neuroticism instead makes you […]

What’s Wrong with “Evidence-Based Medicine” and How Can We Do Better? (My talk at the University of Michigan Friday 2pm)

Tomorrow (Fri 9 Feb) 2pm at the NCRC Research Auditorium (Building 10) at the University of Michigan: What’s Wrong with “Evidence-Based Medicine” and How Can We Do Better? Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University “Evidence-based medicine” sounds like a good idea, but it can run into problems when the […]

N=1 experiments and multilevel models

N=1 experiments are the hot new thing. Here are some things to read: Design and Implementation of N-of-1 Trials: A User’s Guide, edited by Richard Kravitz and Naihua Duan for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2014). Single-patient (n-of-1) trials: a pragmatic clinical decision methodology for patient-centered […]

Here’s a post with a Super Bowl theme.

Kevin Lewis pointed me to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, using the email subject line, “Not statistically significant, but close.” The article in question, by Atheendar Venkataramani, Maheer Gandhavadi, and Anupam Jena, is called, “Association Between Playing American Football in the National Football League and Long-term Mortality,” and it reports: […]

Education, maternity leave, and breastfeeding

Abigail Haddad writes: In today’s column, How We Are Ruining America, David Brooks writes that “Upper-middle-class moms have the means and the maternity leaves to breast-feed their babies at much higher rates than high school-educated moms, and for much longer periods.” He’s correct about college grads being more likely to have access to maternity leave, […]

Postdoc opening on subgroup analysis and risk-benefit analysis at Merck pharmaceuticals research lab

Richard Baumgartner writes: We are looking for a strong postdoctoral fellow for a very interesting cutting edge project. The project requires expertise in statistical modeling and machine learning. Here is the official job ad. We are looking for candidates that are strong both analytically and computationally (excellent coding skills). In the project, we are interested […]

Statistical behavior at the end of the world: the effect of the publication crisis on U.S. research productivity

Under the heading, “I’m suspicious,” Kevin Lewis points us to this article with abstract: We exploit the timing of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the geographical variation in mortality risks individuals faced across states to analyse reproduction decisions during the crisis. The results of a difference-in-differences approach show evidence that fertility decreased in states that […]

Alzheimer’s Mouse research on the Orient Express

Paul Alper sends along an article from Joy Victory at Health News Review, shooting down a bunch of newspaper headlines (“Extra virgin olive oil staves off Alzheimer’s, preserves memory, new study shows” from USA Today, the only marginally better “Can extra-virgin olive oil preserve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s?” from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the better […]

“However noble the goal, research findings should be reported accurately. Distortion of results often occurs not in the data presented but . . . in the abstract, discussion, secondary literature and press releases. Such distortion can lead to unsupported beliefs about what works for obesity treatment and prevention. Such unsupported beliefs may in turn adversely affect future research efforts and the decisions of lawmakers, clinicians and public health leaders.”

David Allison points us to this article by Bryan McComb, Alexis Frazier-Wood, John Dawson, and himself, “Drawing conclusions from within-group comparisons and selected subsets of data leads to unsubstantiated conclusions.” It’s a letter to the editor for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, and it begins: [In the paper, “School-based systems change […]

How is science like the military? They are politically extreme yet vital to the nation

I was thinking recently about two subcultures in the United States, public or quasi-public institutions that are central to our country’s power, and which politically and socially are distant both from each other and from much of the mainstream of American society. The two institutions I’m thinking of are science and the military, both of […]