Section on Teaching Statistics in Health Sciences


The Increasing Sophistication of Statistics in the New England Journal of Medicine (or what your physician should know about statistics, but perhaps doesn’t)

Nicholas J. Horton, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts and Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, New Zealand

TSHS Members:            $

Thursday, April 17, 4:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m. Eastern time

A recent survey of original articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed increasing use of statistical methods over time, compared with surveys conducted in 1979 and 1989 by Emerson and Colditz. Of 311 articles published in 2004-2005, a substantial fraction of articles utilized relatively sophisticated statistical methodologies such as survival analysis (61%), multiple regression (51%) or power calculations (39%). Only 13% of articles used just simple descriptive statistics (e.g. percentages, means, confidence intervals).  Knowledge of material typically included in an introductory statistics course increased this percentage to only 21%. The statistical training required prior to entry into as well as that provided during medical school is quite minimal, and this increasing sophistication complicates the interpretation and dissemination of new results, particularly for clinicians who have not received additional training in the conduct of research.  We discuss the implications of this increased use of sophisticated statistical methods for medical and statistical education.

ASA Members:              $40
Nonmembers:                $50



Statistics 105 --- Real-Life Statistics: Your Chance for Happiness (or Misery)

Xiao-Li Meng, With Happy Team Members: Yves Chretien, Paul Edlefsen, Kari Lock, and Cassandra Wolos
Department of Statistics, Harvard University

Tuesday, April 29, 1:00 p.m.– 2:30 p.m. Eastern time

Statistics 105 is a team-designed course that has received local media attention (e.g.,  Its course description promises the following:

Discover an appreciation of statistical principles and reasoning via "Real-Life Modules" that can make you rich or poor (financial investments), loved or lonely (on-line dating), healthy or ill (clinical trials), satisfied or frustrated (chocolate/wine tasting) and more. Guaranteed to bring happiness (or misery) both to students who have never taken a previous statistics course, and to those who have taken statistics and want to see how statistical thinking applies to so many areas of life.

This webinar will reveal its history, pedagogical motivation, innovations, and challenges along the way. Actual lectures from the medical module, which focuses on Viagra trials and Fen-Phen observational studies, will be used to demonstrate the basic philosophy of, and the students’ engagement in, this course.

TSHS Members:            $25
ASA Members:              $60
Nonmembers:                $75


About Webinars
A webinar is a seminar which is conducted over the World Wide Web. It is a type of web conferencing. In contrast to a Webcast, which is transmission of information in one direction only, webinars are designed to be interactive between the presenter and audience. A webinar is 'live' in the sense that information is conveyed according to an agenda, with a starting and ending time. In the case of this webinar series, the presenter speaks over a standard telephone line, pointing out information being presented on screen. The audience can respond via a chat feature. The word 'webinar' is a blend of web and seminar.

System Requirements
To participate in a web-based course, attendees need to have a PC running Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP or 2003 with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, 6, or Netscape 7 and a high-speed internet connection. WebEx Meeting Manager software will be installed on each attendee’s PC before the beginning of the first web-based course.