‘Proofiness’ book – raising awareness of the widespread manipulation of statistics

‘Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception’ by Charles Seife provides great insight into how mathematics and statistics can, and have been, used to misinform people. For example, did you know that having a child makes you stupid? Or that having more industrial factories actually lowers child mortality?!

Even this short video of the author introducing the book provides great insight into the attempts by various companies, media and even peer-reviewed journals to create publicity by exploiting the statistics.

A ‘must-read’ for statisticians and non-statisticians alike!

Data collection on mobile phones: EpiSurveyor

Need to collect data quickly and easily? Perhaps EpiSurveyor, a secure data collection system for mobile phones, from DataDyne can help. EpiSurveyor can be used to set up, collect and partially analyse data collected on common and inexpensive mobile phones. The data can be collected on any topic, not just health, and in any country.

Register and follow the onscreen instructions to start creating forms immediately! There is a free version, which 99% of EpiSurveyor’s users manage to use, or there are chargeable versions which are less limited. EpiSurveyor has a lot of positive feedback from many previous users, including large organisations such as the World Health Organization, and has won awards.

Need a statistician for a few hours a week?

A UK-based medical statistician is available for around 6 hours a week. Available for individual consultations or regular work. Qualified with an MSc in Biometry, MMath and a BSc (Hons) in Mathematical Sciences, with experience in Phase I Bayesian designs, survival analysis and logistic regression. Fee dependent on scope and nature of work. If you are interested in this opportunity, email for more information.

How to present results from meta-analyses

Have you performed a meta-analysis and are wondering how to present the results? A helpful article has just been published in Research Synthesis Methods, entitled ‘graphical displays for meta-analysis: an overview with suggestions for practice’.

Anzures-Cabrera and Higgins review standard and proposed graphical displays for results from meta-analyses.

Click here to access the article

Risk-benefit assessment hits the headlines

Hopefully the latest media story surrounding breast cancer screening is raising public awareness of the risk-benefit considerations which healthcare professionals and government advisors are constantly having to battle with.

The research being heavily publicised at the moment is from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, published in the Journal of Medical Screening. The authors have assessed the risks and benefits of mass-screening for breast cancer in both England and Sweden and have concluded that mass-mammograms are in fact more helpful than harmful.

This study of 80,000 women reported that:

  • 5.7 breast cancer deaths were prevented for every 1,000 women screened over a 20-year period in England.
  • 2.3 women per 1,000 were ‘over-diagnosed’ (diagnosis with cancer as a result of screening that would not have been diagnosed in the women’s lifetime had the screening not taken place).
  • Between 2 and 2.5 lives were saved for every overdiagnosed case.

To view the way the statistics have been reported visit these (and other) news sources:

BBC

Metro

PressTV

Or view the original publication.

New source of pharma data?

Vitality GlowCaps sounds like a fluffy vitamin supplement but no!

GlowCaps ia a sophisticated medication compliance tracking device incorporated into a medications container. If that’s not cool enough, the monitoring results in a continuous data collection from a growing number of users. It’s not clear yet whether the compliance data can be incorporated into outcome data in electronic health records, but if it could be, the implications for the future of medical statistics are huge! And who owns the data, I wonder?

See more about it on the company’s video format annual report for 2009.

{vimeo}8691847{/vimeo}

Launch of Health Analytics Solution Center in Dallas

IBM recently announced the launch of a Health Analytics Solution Center in Dallas, Texas. The aim for the Center is to address the demand for advanced analytics in the healthcare industry.

The Center in Dallas will employ more than 100 experts. They are to use increased computing power to collect and analyse data from healthcare with the overall aim of being able to provide information to doctors and medical staff to improve disease management, hospital quality, etc.

The launch of this Center provides an example of how well-recognised the importance of data analysis for healthcare is becoming. It also provides job opportunities for statisticians and others who work with healthcare data.

IBM is also opening six other analytics solution centres around the world – London, New York City, Washington, Berlin, Beijing and Tokyo – each with a different focus (only Dallas is focused on healthcare), which will bring the total number of professionals analysing data for IBM’s specialist centres to around 4,000 worldwide.

For further information visit the IBM press room

Research Associate in Medical Statistics wanted!

Interested in developing new methods to account for missing data in large clinical databases? A full-time position has now become available for a medical statistician or an epidemiologist to work as a Research Associate in a leading university in London. If you are interested in this opportunity, email admin@medicalstatistician.com for more information.