Wishing you all a Joyous Festive Season from the AQuAS blog

29 Dec
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Marta Millaret

From the blog AQUAS we hope you are having a good festive season and would like to thank you for reading and following us.

We publish weekly in Catalan, Spanish and English on subjects related to the projects that are being carried out at AQuAS and we also publish contributions from guest authors. The editorial line of the blog includes a focus on assessment from different points of view and areas of the health system.

Along these lines, we have dealt with healthcare and quality results presented by the different agents who make up the healthcare system, the whole range of observatories of the Catalan Health System (including that which deals with the effects of the economic crisis on the health of the population and innovation), qualitative research, integrated care, the assessment of mHealth, inequalities in health, patient involvement, doctor-patient communication, shared decisions, patient and citizen preferences, variations in medical practice, the prevention of low-value clinical practices, the impact of research, information and communications technology, data analysis in research, tools for the visualisation of data, innovation and health management, the gender perspective in science, statistical issues, clinical safety with electronic prescriptions, chronicity (not forgetting chronicity in children), the effects of air pollution in health and current topics.

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The most read articles in 2016 have been:

However, we have published many more texts, 51 posts to be precise, without counting this one, with the aim of sharing knowledge and generating a space for reflection, open and useful for everyone.

Thank you very much, a joyous festive season and see you in the new year!

Post written by Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret), blog AQuAS editor.

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The significant excuse of statistics

28 Apr
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Cristian Tebé

HG Wells never said that “statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write”. If he had said it, he would have been 100% right. Politicians, administrators, scientists, everyone has an indicator, an average or a p-value at the ready to back up their arguments. The source of this information is not always clear and occasionally, the interpretation, or the results themselves, are incorrect.

One notable example of this is the controversy which arose in the UK in February and which saw a group of doctors presenting the British Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, with a three-metre-high edition of the book “How to read a paper”. Hunt, in defense of his “seven-day NHS” plan, stated that in the UK, stroke patients admitted to hospital on weekends were more likely to die. In a letter to the Sunday Times, 59 top neurologists accused Hunt of misrepresenting statistical results and using outdated data to justify his policies.

How to read a paper - Twitter

I do not know if we should be giving books away, or what size they should be, but it might be interesting to take advantage of this space to reflect on the use and abuse of statistics and the almost religious fascination with significant p-values. One particular jingle, that of statistical significance, reminds me of that whole “scientifically proven” claim sported by many products advertised on television when I as a child. A statistically significant result is the seal of approval we all seek relentlessly, but we would do well to remember the tale of Pahom and ask ourselves, how many p-values does a researcher need? Statistically significant or statistics seen as a significant excuse.

To be continued.

Post written by Cristian Tebé Cordomí (@Cristiantb), Statistical Advisory Service at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and Associate Professor at Universitat Rovira i Virgili.