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Section on Statistical Education – JSM 2009 Statistical Challenges in Medical Research: What Consumers Need to Know

By Ronald R. Gauch and Ph. D


This paper explores the statistical features inherent in clinical trials that make it so difficult to come up with the right answers. No matter how skilled and diligent the research team, their trial may still produce the wrong conclusions. Consumers, healthcare professionals as well as the general public should be aware of the liabilities that threaten clinical investigations. In spite of the fear and trepidation usually associated with statistics, the issues discussed in this paper can be readily understood because they do not involve complex formulae or esoteric terminology. Facing up to the intrinsic handicaps of medical investigations can mitigate overly optimistic beliefs held by consumers and generate a greater appreciation for the critical role statistics plays in the design and execution of clinical trials

Topics: Key Words, Medical research, clinical trials, human error, statistical issues
Year: 2010
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