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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

Using statistics to make the world a better place?

In a recent discussion involving our frustration with crap research, Daniel Lakeland wrote: I [Lakeland] really do worry about a world in which social and institutional and similar effects keep us plugging away at a certain kind of cargo-cult science that produces lots of publishable papers and makes it easier to get funding for projects […]

The Use of Sampling Weights in Bayesian Hierarchical Models for Small Area Estimation

All this discussion of plagiarism is leaving a bad taste in my mouth (or, I guess I should say, a bad feeling in my fingers, given that I’m expressing all this on the keyboard) so I wanted to close off the workweek with something more interesting. I happened to come across the above-titled paper by […]

Retrospective clinical trials?

Kelvin Leshabari writes: I am a young medical doctor in Africa who wondered if it is possible to have a retrospective designed randomised clinical trial and yet be sound valid in statistical sense. This is because to the best of my knowledge, the assumptions underlying RCT methodology include that data is obtained in a prospective […]

The history of MRP highlights some differences between political science and epidemiology

Responding to a comment from Thomas Lumley (who asked why MRP estimates often seem to appear without any standard errors), I wrote: In political science, MRP always seems accompanied by uncertainty estimates. However, when lots of things are being displayed at once, it’s not always easy to show uncertainty, and in many cases I simply […]

Debate over kidney transplant stats?

Dan Walter writes: A few years ago, in a post about Baysian statistics, you referred to a book that I wrote about a study on catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation: The Chorus of Ablationists I am writing a story on the transplant industry and am wondering about a widely cited article concerning the long term health effects of […]

Boo! Who’s afraid of availability bias?

Just in time for Halloween: I came across this 2-minute video by Brian Zikmund-Fisher, a professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan, and I took a look because I was curious what he had to say. The video is called “Why aren’t we more scared of measles?” and has the […]

People used to send me ugly graphs, now I get these things

Antonio Rinaldi points me to this journal article which reports: We found a sinusoidal pattern in CMM [cutaneous malignant melanoma] risk by season of birth (P = 0.006). . . . Adjusted odds ratios for CMM by season of birth were 1.21 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05–1.39; P = 0.008] for spring, 1.07 (95% CI, […]

One of the worst infographics ever, but people don’t care?

This post is by Phil Price. Perhaps prompted by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this infographic has been making the rounds: I think this is one of the worst I have ever seen. I don’t know where it came from, so I can’t give credit/blame where it’s due. Let’s put aside the numbers themselves – […]

The health policy innovation center: how best to move from pilot studies to large-scale practice?

A colleague pointed me to this news article regarding evaluation of new health plans: The Affordable Care Act would fund a new research outfit evocatively named the Innovation Center to discover how to most effectively deliver health care, with $10 billion to spend over a decade. But now that the center has gotten started, many […]

The Ben Geen case: Did a naive interpretation of a cluster of cases send an innocent nurse to prison until 2035?

In a paper called “Rarity of Respiratory Arrest,” Richard Gill writes: Statistical analysis of monthly rates of events in around 20 hospitals and over a period of about 10 years shows that respiratory arrest, though about five times less frequent than cardio-respiratory arrest, is a common occurrence in the Emergency Department of a typical smaller […]