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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

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 […]

Random patterns in data yield random conclusions.

Bert Gunter points to this New York Times article, “How Exercise May Make Us Healthier: People who exercise have different proteins moving through their bloodstreams than those who are generally sedentary,” writing that it is “hyping a Journal of Applied Physiology paper that is now my personal record holder for most extensive conclusions from practically […]

The publication asymmetry: What happens if the New England Journal of Medicine publishes something that you think is wrong?

After reading my news article on the replication crisis, retired cardiac surgeon Gerald Weinstein wrote: I have long been disappointed by the quality of research articles written by people and published by editors who should know better. Previously, I had published two articles on experimental design written with your colleague Bruce Levin [of the Columbia […]

Pharmacometrics meeting in Paris on the afternoon of 11 July 2019

Julie Bertrand writes: The pharmacometrics group led by France Mentre (IAME, INSERM, Univ Paris) is very pleased to host a free ISoP Statistics and Pharmacometrics (SxP) SIG local event at Faculté Bichat, 16 rue Henri Huchard, 75018 Paris, on Thursday afternoon the 11th of July 2019. It will features talks from Professor Andrew Gelman, Univ […]

Horse-and-buggy era officially ends for survey research

Peter Enns writes: Given the various comments on your blog about evolving survey methods (e.g., Of buggy whips and moral hazards; or, Sympathy for the Aapor), I thought you might be interested that the Roper Center has updated its acquisitions policy and is now accepting non-probability samples and other methods. This is an exciting move […]

13 Reasons not to trust that claim that 13 Reasons Why increased youth suicide rates

A journalist writes: My eye was caught by this very popular story that broke yesterday — about a study that purported to find a 30 percent (!) increase in suicides, in kids 10-17, in the MONTH after a controversial show about suicide aired. And that increase apparently persisted for the rest of the year. It’s […]

“One should always beat a dead horse because the horse is never really dead”

Paul Alper came up with the above aphorism after reading this news article by Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas, which goes as follows: What These Medical Journals Don’t Reveal: Top Doctors’ Ties to Industry One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the […]

“How many years do we lose to the air we breathe?” Or not.

From this Washington Post article: But . . . wait a second. The University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute . . . what exactly is that? Let’s do a google, then we get to the relevant page. I’m concerned because this is the group that did this report, which featured this memorable graph: See this […]

“Appendix: Why we are publishing this here instead of as a letter to the editor in the journal”

David Allison points us to this letter he wrote with Cynthia Kroeger and Andrew Brown: Unsubstantiated conclusions in randomized controlled trial of binge eating program due to Differences in Nominal Significance (DINS) Error Cachelin et al. tested the effects of a culturally adapted, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-based, guided self-help (CBTgsh) intervention on binge eating reduction . […]

Claims about excess road deaths on “4/20” don’t add up

Sam Harper writes: Since you’ve written about similar papers (that recent NRA study in NEJM, the birthday analysis) before and we linked to a few of your posts, I thought you might be interested in this recent blog post we wrote about a similar kind of study claiming that fatal motor vehicle crashes increase by 12% after 4:20pm […]

Parliamentary Constituency Factsheet for Indicators of Nutrition, Health and Development in India

S. V. Subramanian writes: In India, data on key developmental indicators that formulate policies and interventions are routinely available for the administrative units of districts but not for the political units of Parliamentary Constituencies (PC). Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha, each representing 543 PCs as per the 2014 India map, are the […]

What sort of identification do you get from panel data if effects are long-term? Air pollution and cognition example.

Don MacLeod writes: Perhaps you know this study which is being taken at face value in all the secondary reports: “Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, study reveals.” It’s surely alarming, but the reported effect of air pollution seems implausibly large, so it’s hard to be convinced of it by a correlational study alone, […]

“How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions” . . . and still stays around even after it’s been retracted

Chuck Jackson points to two items of possible interest: Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions, by Richard Harris. Review here by Leonard Freedman. Retractions do not work very well, by Ken Cor and Gaurav Sood. This post by Tyler Cowen brought this paper to my attention. Here’s a […]

“Heckman curve” update: The data don’t seem to support the claim that human capital investments are most effective when targeted at younger ages.

David Rea and Tony Burton write: The Heckman Curve describes the rate of return to public investments in human capital for the disadvantaged as rapidly diminishing with age. Investments early in the life course are characterised as providing significantly higher rates of return compared to investments targeted at young people and adults. This paper uses […]

Impact of published research on behavior and avoidable fatalities

In a paper entitled, “Impact of published research on behavior and avoidable fatalities,” Addison Kramer, Alexandra Kirk, Faizaan Easton, and Bertram Hester write: There has long been speculation of an “informational backfire effect,” whereby the publication of questionable scientific claims can lead to behavioral changes that are counterproductive in the aggregate. Concerns of informational backfire […]

Surgeon promotes fraudulent research that kills people; his employer, a leading hospital, defends him and attacks whistleblowers. Business as usual.

Paul Alper writes: A couple of time at my suggestion, you’ve blogged about Paulo Macchiarini. Here is an update from Susan Perry in which she interviews the director of the Swedish documentary about Macchiarini: Indeed, Macchiarini made it sound as if his patients had recovered their health when, in fact, the synthetic tracheas he had […]

Mister P for surveys in epidemiology — using Stan!

Jon Zelner points us to this new article in the American Journal of Epidemiology, “Multilevel Regression and Poststratification: A Modelling Approach to Estimating Population Quantities From Highly Selected Survey Samples,” by Marnie Downes, Lyle Gurrin, Dallas English, Jane Pirkis, Dianne Currier, Matthew Spittal, and John Carlin, which begins: Large-scale population health studies face increasing difficulties […]

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 […]