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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

What does a “statistically significant difference in mortality rates” mean when you’re trying to decide where to send your kid for heart surgery?

Keith Turner writes: I am not sure if you caught the big story in the New York Times last week about UNC’s pediatric heart surgery program, but part of the story made me interested to know if you had thoughts: Doctors were told that the [mortality] rate had improved in recent years, but the program […]

What’s the evidence on the effectiveness of psychotherapy?

Kyle Dirck points us to this article by John Sakaluk, Robyn Kilshaw, Alexander Williams, and Kathleen Rhyner in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, which begins: Empirically supported treatments (or therapies; ESTs) are the gold standard in therapeutic interventions for psychopathology. Based on a set of methodological and statistical criteria, the APA [American Psychological Association] has […]

My talk at Yale this Thursday

It’s the Quantitative Research Methods Workshop, 12:00-1:15 p.m. in Room A002 at ISPS, 77 Prospect Street Slamming the sham: A Bayesian model for adaptive adjustment with noisy control data Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University It is not always clear how to adjust for control data in causal inference, […]

Is Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep” Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors?

Asher Meir points to this hilarious post by Alexey Guzey entitled, Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep” Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors. Just to start with, the post has a wonderful descriptive title. And the laffs start right away: Positively Nabokovian, I’d say. I mean it. The above table of contents makes me want […]

What happens to your metabolism when you eat ultra-processed foods?

Daniel Lakeland writes: Hey, you wanted examples of people doing real science for the blog! Here’s a randomized controlled trial with a within-subjects crossover design, and completely controlled and monitored conditions, in which all food eaten by the subjects was created by the experimenters and measured carefully, and the participants spent several weeks in a […]

Afternoon decision fatigue

Paul Alper points us to this op-ed, “Don’t Visit Your Doctor in the Afternoon,” by Jeffrey Linder: According to the study, published in JAMA Network Open, doctors ordered fewer breast and colon cancer screenings for patients later in the day, compared to first thing in the morning. All the patients were due for screening, but […]

“Here’s an interesting story right in your sweet spot”

Jonathan Falk writes: Here’s an interesting story right in your sweet spot: Large effects from something whose possible effects couldn’t be that large? Check. Finding something in a sample of 1024 people that requires 34,000 to gain adequate power? Check. Misuse of p values? Check Science journalist hype? Check Searching for the cause of an […]

Jeff Leek: “Data science education as an economic and public health intervention – how statisticians can lead change in the world”

Jeff Leek from Johns Hopkins University is speaking in our statistics department seminar next week: Data science education as an economic and public health intervention – how statisticians can lead change in the world Time: 4:10pm Monday, October 7 Location: 903 School of Social Work Abstract: The data science revolution has led to massive new […]

That study about the health risks of red meat: An excellent news report

A couple different people pointed me to this excellent news article by Gina Kolata (with Brad Plumer), who writes: Public health officials for years have urged Americans to limit consumption of red meat and processed meats because of concerns that these foods are linked to heart disease, cancer and other ills. But on Monday, in […]

They misreport their experiments and don’t fess up when they’ve been caught.

Javier Benitez points us to this paper, “COMPare: Qualitative analysis of researchers’ responses to critical correspondence on a cohort of 58 misreported trials,” by Ben Goldacre, Henry Drysdale, Cicely Marston, Kamal Mahtani, Aaron Dale, Ioan Milosevic, Eirion Slade, Philip Hartley and Carl Heneghan, who write: Discrepancies between pre-specified and reported outcomes are an important and […]

Bank Shot

Tom Clark writes: I came across this paper and thought of you. You might be aware of some papers that have been published about the effect of military surplus equipment aid that is given to police departments. Some economists have claimed to find that it reduces crime. My coauthors and I thought the papers were […]

Here’s a puzzle: Why did the U.S. doctor tell me to drink more wine and the French doctor tell me to drink less?

This recent post [link fixed], on the health effects of drinking a glass of wine a day, reminds me of a story: Several years ago my cardiologist in the U.S. recommended that I drink a glass of red wine a day for health reasons. I’m not a big drinker—probably I average something less than 100 […]

Is the effect they found too large to believe? (the effect of breakfast macronutrients on social decisions)

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Have you seen this paper? I [my correspondent] don’t see any obvious problems, but the results fall into the typical social psychology case “unbelievably large effects of small manipulations”. They even say so themselves: We provided converging evidence from two studies showing that a relatively small variation in […]

“No, cardiac arrests are not more common on Monday mornings, study finds”

Paul Alper points us to this news report by Susan Perry. I have no idea how good this study is—I have not looked at it at all, except to pull out those two ugly-but-somewhat-functional graphs above (where “SCA” stands for “sudden cardiac arrest”)—but I wanted to convey my approval for a news story reporting a […]

Are supercentenarians mostly superfrauds?

Ethan Steinberg points to a new article by Saul Justin Newman with the wonderfully descriptive title, “Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans,” which begins: The observation of individuals attaining remarkable ages, and their concentration into geographic sub-regions or ‘blue zones’, has generated considerable scientific interest. Proposed […]

New Data Science Health Innovation Fellowship at the University of California

Emma Huang writes: I’m one of the Program Co-Directors for a new Data Science Health Innovation Fellowship organized by UCSF, UC Berkeley, and Janssen R&D. We are currently recruiting the first cohort of candidates and are trying to publicize this initiative as broadly as possible among relevant communities. Below is a call for applications. As […]

A rise in premature publications among politically engaged researchers may be linked to Trump’s election, study says

A couple people pointed me to this news story, “A rise in premature births among Latina women may be linked to Trump’s election, study says,” and the associated JAMA article, which begins: Question Did preterm births increase among Latina women who were pregnant during the 2016 US presidential election? Findings This population-based study used an […]

Causal inference with time-varying mediators

Adan Becerra writes to Tyler VanderWeele: I have a question about your paper “Mediation analysis for a survival outcome with time-varying exposures, mediators, and confounders” that I was hoping that you could help my colleague (Julia Ward) and me with. We are currently using Medicare claims data to evaluate the following general mediation among dialysis […]

The garden of 603,979,752 forking paths

Amy Orben and Andrew Przybylski write: The widespread use of digital technologies by young people has spurred speculation that their regular use negatively impacts psychological well-being. Current empirical evidence supporting this idea is largely based on secondary analyses of large-scale social datasets. Though these datasets provide a valuable resource for highly powered investigations, their many […]

Harvard dude calls us “online trolls”

Story here. Background here (“How post-hoc power calculation is like a shit sandwich”) and here (“Post-Hoc Power PubPeer Dumpster Fire”). OK, to be fair, “shit sandwich” could be considered kind of a trollish thing for me to have said. But the potty language in this context was not gratuitous; it furthered the larger point I […]