Using Statistics in Primary Medical Research
CSM medical statisticians conduct clinical and nonclinical medical research, getting involved from study design and funding applications to analysis and publication
Most CSM members work as medical statisticians. They collaborate with clinicians and other medical researchers on studies from a diverse range of therapeutic areas, from musculoskeletal research to neurology and cancer research.
What statisticians do
Design and set up
Any piece of medical research can only be as good as its design. To prevent bias, a study's design must be decided before beginning the research, including how the data collected will be analysed.
Statisticians help to plan a study so that it can properly answer the question it is investigating. They are involved in deciding things like:
- The size of the sample needed
- How patients will be randomised and allocated to treatments
- In a phase I trial, how the final dose will be decided
- What statistical tests will be used on the final data analysis
- What data should be analysed in interim analyses to check for safety
Recruitment and follow up
In some phase I studies, the treatment dose that a patient gets is dependent on how many participants have been recruited and their results. The collaborating statistician will perform any required data analysis and determine the dose.
In some studies, participants are randomly allocated to a particular treatment. The collaborating statistician controls this process. They set up a randomisation process, either at each trial venue or held centrally. If there are any problems or confusion, the statistician is on call to ensure that every patient is correctly allocated, without randomisation or blinding being broken.
All data collected during the study is sent to the collaborating statistician. They run periodic data integrity checks, checking that all of the planned data are being collected and in a usable format. Any problems are then picked up early enough to correct.
AnalysIs and publication
Once a study has ended, the statistician will analyse the data in consultation with the researchers and help to draft any papers. Interesting patterns in the data might lead to additional analyses after the designed analysis is finished.