Research pp 136-152 | Cite as

A Guide to Statistical Methods

  • Denis M. Burley


As scientists we all have beliefs and the purpose of the scientific experiment is to test those beliefs. Yet medical history is littered with untested beliefs acted upon for decades or even centuries until the application of scientific method has led to their being discarded, often with great reluctance. These might merely concern the theory of medicine or, more importantly, they might concern patients; for example, numerous futile operations were done to remove healthy organs of patients — tonsils, gall-bladders and colons — because of the untested and unproved hypothesis of focal sepsis. A scientific approach is more humane and careful clinical trials prevent useless and dangerous drugs being inflicted upon the public.


Minimum Important Difference Nominal Data British Medical Association Analgesic Placebo Group Comparative Study 
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  1. Altman DG (1983) Size of clinical trials. Br Med J 1: 1842–1843CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Swinscow TDV (1983) Statistics at square one, 8th edn. British Medical Association, LondonGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Gore SM, Altman DG (1982) Statistics in practice (articles from the British Medical Journal). British Medical Association, LondonGoogle Scholar

Useful Tables

  1. Clarke CJ, Downie CC (1966) A method for the rapid determination of the number of patients to include in a controlled trial. Lancet 11: 1357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Diem K, Lenter C (eds) (1973) Documenta Geigy. Scientific tables. Ciba-Geigy, BasleGoogle Scholar
  3. Fisher RA, Yates F (1970) Statistical tables for biological, agricultural and medical research, 6th edn. Oliver and Boyd, EdinburghGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis M. Burley

There are no affiliations available

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