Monthly Archives: April 2013

Is formally testing for normality largely a waste of time?

A common assumption of many statistical techniques is that the data are conditionally normally distributed. For example, an assumption made when performing a t-test is that the variable being tested is normally distributed in each group. In the example of linear regression, one of the assumptions is that the residuals are normally distributed. Clearly it …read more

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Primary care, cost-effectiveness, and playing at being bad cop

At the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare which had 3500 delegates last week in London, Martin Marshall (Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL’s DAHR) and myself debated whether primary care really saves money and improves health outcomes. Marshall played ‘good cop’ and trotted out the well-known Starfield data which shows that countries …read more

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Improving cancer care

I offered three challenges to the audience at an international conference of primary care cancer researchers in Cambridge (Ca-PRI, April 15th-16th): First, does primary care for people with cancer need to be improved, second does quality need to be measured in order to improve it, and third, how can the quality of primary care for …read more

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They do funding AND shrunken heads: go visit the Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Trust – oooh, funding! That’s my usual association. So it was good to remind myself this weekend about all the other things they do, including showing the most fascinating collection of health and disease related objects it is possible to imagine. I spent a rapt hour in the Wellcome Collection’s Medicine Man exhibition, …read more

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So, what should we expect from out-of-hours care?

Out of hours care can’t seem to get much right at the moment, at least in the media. We commented only recently on the Patient’s Association report which sparked this, in which a survey (note: of their members and supporters) found that 54% “were not satisfied with the service they received from an NHS out-of-hours …read more

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Significantly significant?

A complaint often levelled at medical research is that far more focus is given to statistical significance than clinical significance. In fact I saw a tweet a few weeks ago deploring the situation. This made me think why this is the case. The short answer is that we have some fairly well established thinking about …read more

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