Statistical fallacies in orthopedic research

Indrayan , Abhaya (2007) Statistical fallacies in orthopedic research Indian Journal of Orthopaedics, 41 (1). pp. 37-46. ISSN 0019-5413

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Background: A large number of statistical fallacies occur in medical research literature. These are mostly inadvertent and occur due to lack of understanding of the statistical concepts and terminologies. Many researchers do not fully appreciate the consequence of such fallacies on the credibility of their report. Materials and Methods: This article provides a general review of the issues that could give rise to statistical fallacies with focus on orthopedic research. Some of this is based on real-life literature and some is based on the actual experiences of the author in dealing with medical research over the past three decades. The text is in teaching mode rather than research mode. Results: Statistical fallacies occur due to inadequate sample that is used for generalized conclusion; incomparable groups presented as comparable; mixing of two or more distinct groups that in fact require separate consideration; misuse of percentages, means and graphs; incomplete reporting that suppresses facts; ignoring reality and depending instead on oversimplification; forgetting baseline values that affect the outcome; misuse of computer packages and use of black-box approach; misuse of P -values that compromises conclusions; confusing correlation with cause-effect; and interpreting statistical significance as medical significance. Conclusion: Mere awareness of the situations where statistical fallacies can occur may be adequate for researchers to sit up and take note while trying to provide a credible report.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Medknow Publications.
Keywords:Biased Sample; Differential Definition; Misuse of Means; Inadequate Analysis; Misuse of P- Values; Medical Significance
ID Code:73520
Deposited On:06 Dec 2011 05:20
Last Modified:06 Dec 2011 05:20

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