In the third article in our series on medical statistics, Wai-Ching Leung discusses the best way to condense different types of data
In my previous articles I noted that we can use statistics when events are not entirely predictable and depend on a large number of factors.12 Statistics can also be used to test hypotheses and to estimate how likely it is that something will happen from information gathered from a large number of observations.
Effective techniques to summarise a large amount of information are essential for several reasons. Firstly, this will help us to make sense and get a feel of the information we have. Graphs and charts often prove useful. Secondly, it may help us to formulate the hypothesis we wish to test. For example, if we have the heights of a large number of men and women and we want to show that, overall, men are taller than women, we must have a method of calculating “average” height (averaging is an example of summarising information from a large number