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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 24-33

Statistical methods and errors in family medicine articles between 2010 and 2014-Suez Canal University, Egypt: A cross-sectional study

Department of Family Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Hebatallah Nour-Eldein
Department of Family Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.184619

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Background: With limited statistical knowledge of most physicians it is not uncommon to find statistical errors in research articles. Objectives: To determine the statistical methods and to assess the statistical errors in family medicine (FM) research articles that were published between 2010 and 2014. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. All 66 FM research articles that were published over 5 years by FM authors with affiliation to Suez Canal University were screened by the researcher between May and August 2015. Types and frequencies of statistical methods were reviewed in all 66 FM articles. All 60 articles with identified inferential statistics were examined for statistical errors and deficiencies. A comprehensive 58-item checklist based on statistical guidelines was used to evaluate the statistical quality of FM articles. Results: Inferential methods were recorded in 62/66 (93.9%) of FM articles. Advanced analyses were used in 29/66 (43.9%). Contingency tables 38/66 (57.6%), regression (logistic, linear) 26/66 (39.4%), and t-test 17/66 (25.8%) were the most commonly used inferential tests. Within 60 FM articles with identified inferential statistics, no prior sample size 19/60 (31.7%), application of wrong statistical tests 17/60 (28.3%), incomplete documentation of statistics 59/60 (98.3%), reporting P value without test statistics 32/60 (53.3%), no reporting confidence interval with effect size measures 12/60 (20.0%), use of mean (standard deviation) to describe ordinal/nonnormal data 8/60 (13.3%), and errors related to interpretation were mainly for conclusions without support by the study data 5/60 (8.3%). Conclusion: Inferential statistics were used in the majority of FM articles. Data analysis and reporting statistics are areas for improvement in FM research articles.

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