An evaluation of the quality of statistical design and analysis of published medical research: Results from a systematic survey of general orthopaedic journals

Nick R. Parsons, Charlotte L. Price, Richard Hiskens, Juul Achten, Matthew L. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The application of statistics in reported research in trauma and orthopaedic surgery has become ever more important and complex. Despite the extensive use of statistical analysis, it is still a subject which is often not conceptually well understood, resulting in clear methodological flaws and inadequate reporting in many papers. Methods. A detailed statistical survey sampled 100 representative orthopaedic papers using a validated questionnaire that assessed the quality of the trial design and statistical analysis methods. Results: The survey found evidence of failings in study design, statistical methodology and presentation of the results. Overall, in 17% (95% confidence interval; 10-26%) of the studies investigated the conclusions were not clearly justified by the results, in 39% (30-49%) of studies a different analysis should have been undertaken and in 17% (10-26%) a different analysis could have made a difference to the overall conclusions. Conclusion: It is only by an improved dialogue between statistician, clinician, reviewer and journal editor that the failings in design methodology and analysis highlighted by this survey can be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Parsons et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • Experimental Unit
  • Statistical Review
  • Medical Discipline
  • Orthopaedic Research
  • Orthopaedic Literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Informatics

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