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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES 04

0608-INTRODUCTION TO QUANTITATIVE METHODS II: BIOSTATISTICS

Background reading material for PPSD session on 09th August 2006 for Year 1 Medical Students Institute of Medicine University Brunei Darussalam by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule

BIOSTATISTICS AS A DISCIPLINE

The term statistics can be used to convey three meanings. (a) Applied statistics is defined as techniques of articulating, summarizing, analyzing, and interpreting numerical information. (b) Theoretical statistics deals with probability. (c) Statistics are indices or summary statistics derived from data. Bio-statistics is a branch of applied statistics that is management and analysis of numerical data on people, health, disease, medical treatments and procedures. It includes vital statistics, public health statistics, and demography. Biostatistics is divided into 2 branches: descriptive and analytic. Descriptive statistics deals with collection, organization, presentation, and summarization of data. Analytic statistics deals with drawing logical and objective conclusions about a sample or a population. Biostatistics provides the tools for the summary and digestion of a lot of numerical laboratory and clinical data including critical reading and understanding of scientific literature.

 

LIMITATIONS OF BIOSTATISTICS

An investigator starts with a substantive question that is formulated as a statistical question. Data is then collected and is analyzed to reach a statistical conclusion. The statistical conclusion is used with other knowledge to reach a substantive conclusion.

Statistics has several limitations. It gives statistical and not substantive answers. The statistical conclusion refers to groups and not individuals. It only summarizes but does not interpret data.

 

Statistics can be misused by selective presentation of desired results. Computation is not an end in itself. It is a tool that can be used well or can be mis-used. A human must have a clear idea of what is required of the computer and must instruct it accordingly. The human must also be able to intelligently interpret the output from the computer.  All who tinker with computers must remember the adage ‘rubbish in/rubbish out’.

 

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOSTATISTICS

Biostatistics finds practical applications in quantitative research, administration, and decision-making. Statisticians work in universities, the public sector, and the private sector.

 

EXERCISE IN DATA COLLECTION, EDITING, and DISPLAY

Use a mailed questionnaire to collect the following class data:

  1. Identification number (please use a fictitious one but remember it for future use)
  2. Socio-demographic: age, gender, district of birth, type of primary school (government or private), number of siblings
  3. Anthropometric: weight and height
  4. Health: blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, use of glasses (yes/no)
  5. Family history: use of glasses by father (yes/no), mother (yes/no), any sibling(yes/no).
  6. Opinions and attitudes: color preference (choose only among primary colors), ideal age at marriage, desired number of children, do you want to specialize (yes/no)

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule August 2006