Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

Postdoc in Chicago on statistical methods for evidence-based policy

Beth Tipton writes: The Institute for Policy Research and the Department of Statistics is seeking applicants for a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Dr. Larry Hedges and Dr. Elizabeth Tipton. This fellowship will be a part of a new center which focuses on the development of statistical methods for evidence-based policy. This includes research on methods for […]

Are male doctors better for male heart attack patients and female doctors better for female heart attack patients?

Brad Greenwood, Seth Carnahan, and Laura Huang write: A large body of medical research suggests that women are less likely than men to survive traumatic health episodes like acute myocardial infarctions. In this work, we posit that these difficulties may be partially explained, or exacerbated, by the gender match between the patient and the physician. […]

Raghuram Rajan: “The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind”

A few months ago I receive a copy of the book, “The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind,” by economist Raghuram Rajan. The topic is important and the book is full of interesting thoughts. It’s hard for me to evaluate Rajan’s economics and policy advice, so I’ll leave that to […]

Good news! Researchers respond to a correction by acknowledging it and not trying to dodge its implications

In a letter to the Journal of Nursing Research, Brown and Allison write: We question the conclusions that a health promotion model “was highly effective for gaining healthy life behaviors and the control of BMI of the participants” in an article recently published in The Journal of Nursing Research (Fidanci, Akbayrak, & Arslan, 2017). The […]

“Light Privilege? Skin Tone Stratification in Health among African Americans”

Kevin Lewis points us to this article by Taylor Hargrove, which states: Although skin color represents a particularly salient dimension of race, its consequences for health remains unclear. The author uses four waves of panel data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study and random-intercept multilevel models to address three research questions […]

Evidence distortion in clinical trials

After seeing our recent post, “Seeding trials”: medical marketing disguised as science, Till Bruckner sent me this message: I’ve been working on clinical trial transparency issues for over two years now, first for AllTrials and now for TranspariMED, and can assure you that this is only the tip of the iceberg. This report by Transparency […]

Don’t worry, the post will be coming . . . eventually

Jordan Anaya sends along a link and writes: Not sure if you’re planning on covering this, but I noticed this today. This could also maybe be another example of the bullshit asymmetry principle since the original paper has an altmetric of 1300 and I’m not sure the rebuttal will get as much attention. I replied […]

Does diet soda stop cancer? Two Yale Cancer Center docs have diametrically opposite views!

Check out these two quotes regarding a recent study, “Associations of artificially sweetened beverage intake with disease recurrence and mortality in stage III colon cancer.” First there’s the claim: Artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of the purported health risks that have never really been documented. Our study clearly shows […]

“Objective: Generate evidence for the comparative effectiveness for each pairwise comparison of depression treatments for a set of outcomes of interest.”

Mark Tuttle points us to this project by Martijn Schuemie and Patrick Ryan: Large-Scale Population-Level Evidence Generation Objective: Generate evidence for the comparative effectiveness for each pairwise comparison of depression treatments for a set of outcomes of interest. Rationale: In current practice, most comparative effectiveness questions are answered individually in a study per question. This […]

If this article portrays things accurately, the nutrition literature is in even worse shape than I thought

Forget Pizzagate. This is the stuff we really care about. John Ioannidis writes: Assuming the meta-analyzed evidence from cohort studies represents life span–long causal associations, for a baseline life expectancy of 80 years, eating 12 hazelnuts daily (1 oz) would prolong life by 12 years (ie, 1 year per hazelnut) [1], drinking 3 cups of […]

Did she really live 122 years?

Even more famous than “the Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest” is “the French lady who lived to be 122 years old.” But did she really? Paul Campos points us to this post, where he writes: Here’s a statistical series, laying out various points along the 100 longest known durations of a […]

When “nudge” doesn’t work: Medication Reminders to Outcomes After Myocardial Infarction

Gur Huberman points to this news article by Aaron Carroll, “Don’t Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine,” which reports on a recent study by Kevin Volpp et al. that set out “to determine whether a system of medication reminders using financial incentives and social support delays subsequent vascular events in patients following […]

Classifying yin and yang using MRI

Zad Chow writes: I wanted to pass along this study I found a while back that aimed to see whether there was any possible signal in an ancient Chinese theory of depression that classifies major depressive disorder into “yin” and “yang” subtypes. The authors write the following, The “Yin and Yang” theory is a fundamental […]

Should we be concerned about MRP estimates being used in later analyses? Maybe. I recommend checking using fake-data simulation.

Someone sent in a question (see below). I asked if I could post the question and my reply on blog, and the person responded: Absolutely, but please withhold my name because this is becoming a touchy issue within my department. The boldface was in the original. I get this a lot. There seems to be […]

These 3 problems destroy many clinical trials (in context of some papers on problems with non-inferiority trials, or problems with clinical trials in general)

Paul Alper points to this news article in Health News Review, which says: A news release or story that proclaims a new treatment is “just as effective” or “comparable to” or “as good as” an existing therapy might spring from a non-inferiority trial. Technically speaking, these studies are designed to test whether an intervention is […]

What to think about this new study which says that you should limit your alcohol to 5 drinks a week?

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous points us to a recent article in the Lancet, “Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599 912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studies,” by Angela Wood et al., that’s received a lot of press coverage; for example: Terrifying New Study Breaks Down Exactly How Drinking […]

An actual quote from a paper published in a medical journal: “The data, analytic methods, and study materials will not be made available to other researchers for purposes of reproducing the results or replicating the procedure.”

Someone writes: So the NYT yesterday has a story about this study I am directed to it and am immediately concerned about all the things that make this study somewhat dubious. Forking paths in the definition of the independent variable, sample selection in who wore the accelerometers, ignorance of the undoubtedly huge importance of interactions […]

Predicting spread of flu

Aleks points us to this page on flu prediction. I haven’t looked into it but it seems like an important project.

He had a sudden cardiac arrest. How does this change the probability that he has a particular genetic condition?

Megan McArdle writes: I have a friend with a probability problem I don’t know how to solve. He’s 37 and just keeled over with sudden cardiac arrest, and is trying to figure out how to assess the probability that he has a given condition as his doctors work through his case. He knows I’ve been […]

Understanding Chicago’s homicide spike; comparisons to other cities

Michael Masinter writes: As a longtime blog reader sufficiently wise not to post beyond my academic discipline, I hope you might take a look at what seems to me to be a highly controversial attempt to use regression analysis to blame the ACLU for the recent rise in homicides in Chicago. A summary appears here […]