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Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

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 […]

Perhaps you could try a big scatterplot with one dot per dataset?

Joe Nadeau writes: We are studying variation in both means and variances in metabolic conditions. We have access to nearly 200 datasets that involve a range of metabolic traits and vary in sample size, mean effects, and variance. Some traits differ in mean but not variance, others in variance but not mean, still others in […]

“Fudged statistics on the Iraq War death toll are still circulating today”

Mike Spagat shares this story entitled, “Fudged statistics on the Iraq War death toll are still circulating today,” which discusses problems with a paper published in a scientific journal in 2006, and errors that a reporter inadvertently included in a recent news article. Spagat writes: The Lancet could argue that if [Washington Post reporter Philip] […]

My talk tomorrow (Tues) 4pm in the Biomedical Informatics department (at 168th St)

The talk is 4-5pm in Room 200 on the 20th floor of the Presbyterian Hospital Building, Columbia University Medical Center. I’m not sure what I’m gonna talk about. It’ll depend on what people are interested in discussing. Here are some possible topics: – The failure of null hypothesis significance testing when studying incremental changes, and […]

Job opening at CDC: “The Statistician will play a central role in guiding the statistical methods of all major projects of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the CDC Influenza Division, and aid in designing, analyzing, and interpreting research intended to understand the burden of influenza in the US and internationally and identify the best influenza vaccines and vaccine strategies.”

This sounds super interesting: Vacancy Information: Mathematical Statistician, GS-1529-14 Please apply at one of the following: · DE (External candidates to the US GOV) Announcement: HHS-CDC-D3-18-10312897 · MP (Internal candidates to the US GOV) Announcement: HHS-CDC-M3-18-10312898 Location: Atlanta, GA – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease – […]

What if a big study is done and nobody reports it?

Paul Alper writes: Your blog often contains criticisms of articles which get too much publicity. Here is an instance of the obverse (inverse? reverse?) where a worthy publication dealing with a serious medical condition is virtually ignored. From Michael Joyce at the ever-reliable and informative Healthnewsreview.org: Prostate cancer screening: massive study gets minimal coverage. Why? […]

Some clues that this study has big big problems

Paul Alper writes: This article from the New York Daily News, reproduced in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, is so terrible in so many ways. Very sad commentary regarding all aspects of statistics education and journalism. The news article, by Joe Dziemianowicz, is called “Study says drinking alcohol is key to living past 90,” with subheading, […]