Dr Haroons Training Centre

Biostatistics the mathematics of life

These days i am intensely dabbling with hardcore statistics . More specifically converting the high end mathematics involved in statistics for healthcare into easily understandable layman language . This is needed as this beautiful subject is a misunderstood subject by most . Its taught in business schools as business statistics and "brushed through " in MBBS as biostatistics . 

These days with the impact of clinical research biostatistics is again in the limelight . Still its impact is underappreciated by most healthcare personnel. With the magical p value which miraculously adds credibility to any study and the "normal distribution "  its surprising the average healthcare person doesnt know what exactly it is and its strengths and limitations . Its all the more important these days as not only research personnell the average healthcare professional is bombarded with study after study with conflicting statistical data . 

Biostatistics is a part of statistics . Even statistics , its  surprising  its impact on everyday life .  I was never scared of flying . Not because i was a very courageous person. ( I run up a tree even seeing a cat :) ) but because i believed tremendously in the power of probability ,To  die in an aircrash is statistically much much more difficult (1 in 11 million according to some studies ) than dying in a road traffic accident ( 1 in 240 chance  in lifetime so high its scary ). The same is the case of shark attack ( 1 in 3 million only )as the probabilities are so remote though the fear factor is amplified a thousand times . The same statistics show in exact terms your odds of winning a lottery or a roulette in a casino . And there the average Joe ( me included ) buys a lottery hoping for a win . 

And statistics are notoriously misused in print media and news . A 86 percent chance of  something is believed with so much credibility just because statistics or a number is used while reporting . Again since most people dont know statistics in depth those numbers are just believed without asking about study design , sample size or the topic under study . 

For those reading medical journals did you know that if sample size is small the odds ratio can be overinflated ?  And that in a study there is still a remote chance that the result is due to "chance " the same thing which you encounter when you roll a die in a snake and ladder or ludo . Does ludo involve dice ? I forgot . More of  biostatistics on a later blog . 

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