An evaluation of the quality of statistical design and analysis of published medical research: results from a systematic survey of general orthopaedic journals.
Parsons NR., Price CL., Hiskens R., Achten J., Costa ML.
BACKGROUND: The application of statistics in reported research in trauma and orthopaedic surgery has become ever more important and complex. Despite the extensive use of statistical analysis, it is still a subject which is often not conceptually well understood, resulting in clear methodological flaws and inadequate reporting in many papers. METHODS: A detailed statistical survey sampled 100 representative orthopaedic papers using a validated questionnaire that assessed the quality of the trial design and statistical analysis methods. RESULTS: The survey found evidence of failings in study design, statistical methodology and presentation of the results. Overall, in 17% (95% confidence interval; 10-26%) of the studies investigated the conclusions were not clearly justified by the results, in 39% (30-49%) of studies a different analysis should have been undertaken and in 17% (10-26%) a different analysis could have made a difference to the overall conclusions. CONCLUSION: It is only by an improved dialogue between statistician, clinician, reviewer and journal editor that the failings in design methodology and analysis highlighted by this survey can be addressed.