Journal of Biostatistics and Epidemiology 2016. 2(3):125-129.

Usage of statistical methods and study designs in publication of specialty of general medicine and its secular changes
Swati Patel, Vipin Naik, Rajkumar Bansal, Prakash Patel, Neeta Sharma


Background & Aim: It is important that clinicians understand statistical methods into their own research and correctly apply in their research. The main objective of this study is to explore the study designs, statistical methods used and the issue of inaccuracy and inappropriate usage of statistical methods in the research publications of the specialty of general medicine as evidenced by five selected journals over a 10-year period and improvements thereof.
Methods & Materials: Originally published articles were reviewed of the journals of specialty of general medicines for the above-defined objective (list of journals: Indian Journal of Medical Research, Indian Journal of Critical Care, Indian Journal of Nephrology, Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, and New England Journal of Medicine were reviewed). Qualitative data represented by percentage, Z-test of proportion applied at 95% level of significance.
Results: The usage of some statistical methods in 2003 was 61.54% which increased to 79.26% by 2013. Only 2.19% research article had mentioned the concept of study design in 2003 which increased to 10.56% by 2013. There was a greater usage of statistical concepts and methods such as parametric and nonparametric tests, regression, survival analysis in 2013 as compared to 2003. There was a significant improvement observed in the usage of statistical software over a 10-year period. A common error observed was the usage of standard error instead of standard deviation to present the data and we found that there was a vast improvement in the use of advanced statistical methods over the decade.
Conclusion: This study highlights the increasing importance of medical statistics in the research publications pertaining to the specialty of general medicine over time so that the inferences drawn from these studies are actually representative of the population that they represent and are valid and reliable. These concepts are of paramount importance while physicians read these articles and try to adopt their recommendations.


Published articles ingeneral medicine; Statistical methods; Study design; Secular changes; Inappropriate usage ofstatistical methods

Full Text:



Zaman Q, Azam M, Pfeiffer KP, Strasak AM. Statistical methods and complexity of data analysis in recent surgical research. Elixir Hum Physio 2011; 35: 2961-3.

Morris RW. A statistical study of papers in the journal of bone and joint surgery IBRI 1984. J Bone Joint Surg 1988; 70-B: 242-6.

Schwartz SJ, Sturr M, Goldberg G. S4. Emerson JD, Colditz GA. Use of statistical analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine. N Engl J Med 1983; 309(12): 709-13.

Patel S, Naik VD, Patel P. Use of statistical methods and complexity of data analysis in recent research publications in basic medical sciences. Natl J Community Med 2007; 5(2): 253-6.

Feinstein AR. Clinical biostatistics. XXV. A survey of the statistical procedures in general medical journals. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1974; 15(1): 97-107.

Hellems MA, Gurka MJ, Hayden GF. Statistical literacy for readers of Pediatrics: a moving target. Pediatrics 2007; 119(6): 1083-8.

Wang Q, Zhang B. Research design and statistical methods in Chinese medical journals. JAMA 1998; 280(3): 283-5.

Pilcik T. Statistics in three biomedical journals. Physiol Res 2003; 52(1): 39-43.

Menegazzi JJ, Yealy DM, Harris JS. Methods of data analysis in the emergency medicine literature. Am J Emerg Med 1991; 9(3): 225-7.

Strasak AM, Zaman Q, Marinell G, Pfeiffer KP, Ulmer H. The use of statistics in medical research: a comparison of "the new England journal of medicine" and "nature medicine". Am Stat 2007; 61(1): 47-55.

Lang T, Altman D. Basic statistical reporting for articles published in clinical medical journals: the SAMPL Guidelines. In: Smart P, Maisonneuve H, Polderman A, Editors. Science editors' handbook. Paris, France: European Association of Science Editors; 2013.tatistical methods in rehabilitation literature: A survey of recent publications. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1996; 77(5): 497-500.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License which allows users to read, copy, distribute and make derivative works for non-commercial purposes from the material, as long as the author of the original work is cited properly.