Why and when do we need medical statistics?
It is no secret that medical students don't like statistics, but they are an essential tool for doctors. In the first part of our new series, Wai-Ching Leung explains why
Observations of medical students confirmed that “statistics is, above all, the subject most disliked by students.”1 An eminent medical statistician could only console himself that “medical students may not like statistics, but as doctors they will.”2 Why don't medical students think that statistics are as important as their teachers do?
Statistics might seem irrelevant, because you can usually understand simple situations without them. In your career as a doctor, the situations are more complex: statistics are essential. When are statistics useful, and what can they do for you?
Remember science experiments at secondary school? In physics, you investigated how various factors--the length of the string, the mass of the bob, and the amplitude--affected the period of a pendulum. It was enough to time the period of pendulums with different lengths of string, amplitudes, and masses and to compare the results. You did not need statistics.
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