Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In medical research analyses, continuous variables are often converted into categoric variables by grouping values into ≥2 categories. The simplicity achieved by creating ≥2 artificial groups has a cost: Grouping may create rather than avoid problems. In particular, dichotomization leads to a considerable loss of power and incomplete correction for confounding factors. The use of data-derived "optimal" cut-points can lead to serious bias and should at least be tested on independent observations to assess their validity. Both problems are illustrated by the way the results of a registry on unruptured intracranial aneurysms are commonly used. Extreme caution should restrict the application of such results to clinical decision-making. Categorization of continuous data, especially dichotomization, is unnecessary for statistical analysis. Continuous explanatory variables should be left alone in statistical models.

Original publication




Journal article


Ajnr am j neuroradiol

Publication Date





437 - 440


Aneurysm, Ruptured, Bias, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Humans, Intracranial Aneurysm, Prevalence, Proportional Hazards Models, Reproducibility of Results, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Sensitivity and Specificity