Lou Fintor, MA, MPH
Fintor L.; Understanding Medical Research: A Practitioner's Guide. Ann Intern Med. 1998;128:79. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-128-1-199801010-00030
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1998;128(1):79.
Garb JL. 256 pages. Boston: Little, Brown; 1996. $24.95. ISBN 0316291692.
Field of medicine: Epidemiology and the clinical specialties.
Format: Softcover book.
Audience: Written for busy clinical practitioners, this book is also useful for medical students and others who desire a brief, general overview of the fundamental epidemiologic and statistical tools necessary for understanding and critically evaluating medical literature.
Purpose: To “demystify” statistics and “provide clinicians with the practical skills to evaluate studies in the medical literature or to conduct studies for publication.”
Content: The 16 chapters of this book are grouped into four sections: “Principles of Estimation,” “Principles of Hypothesis Testing,” “Application to Evaluating the Literature,” and “Application to Conducting a Study.” The first chapter covers basic descriptive population statistics and explains sample estimates, bias, and confidence intervals. The next eight chapters cover validity and predictive value in screening tests, study and clinical trial design, validity and reliability issues, probability, and basic computational tools for test statistics and for determining statistical power and establishing significance. An excellent stand-alone summary chapter on univariate and multivariate statistics includes a discussion of life tables and Kaplan-Meier approaches. Another chapter dwells on the use of confidence intervals in relative risks, odds ratios, and other hypothesis-testing applications. Chapters 10 through 12 provide more depth by revisiting hypothesis testing using a variety of examples that the reader often encounters: randomized clinical trials, case–control studies, cross-sectional cohorts, and meta-analysis. The final section of the book provides a methodical, stepwise approach to research, from conceptualizing the study to writing the manuscript. The book concludes with an excellent appendix that provides sample research protocols and data forms and crucial reminders for determining sample size methods of randomization.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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