Scientific rigour in psycho-oncology trials: why and how to avoid common statistical errors
Article first published online: 7 FEB 2012
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 499–505, March 2013
How to Cite
Bell, M. L., Olivier, J. and King, M. T. (2013), Scientific rigour in psycho-oncology trials: why and how to avoid common statistical errors. Psycho-Oncology, 22: 499–505. doi: 10.1002/pon.3046
- Issue published online: 1 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 7 FEB 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 JAN 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 15 JAN 2012
- Manuscript Received: 25 JUL 2011
- quality control;
It is well documented that statistical and methodological flaws are common in much of the health research literature, including psycho-oncology. These can have far-reaching effects, including the publishing of misleading results; the wasting of time, effort, and financial resources; exposure of patients to the potential harms of research and decreased confidence in science and researchers by the public.
Several of the most common statistical errors and methodological pitfalls that occur in the field of psycho-oncology are discussed, including those that occur at the design, analysis, reporting and conclusion stages.
Fourteen topics are briefly discussed, explaining why there is a problem and how to avoid it. These include proper approaches to power, clustering, missing data, categorization of continuous variables, subgroup analyses, multiple comparisons, statistical interactions, confidence intervals and correct interpretation of p-values. Extensive referencing points the reader to more in-depth explanations.
To increase the scientific rigour in psycho-oncology, researchers should involve a biostatistician from the beginning of the study and should commit to continuing education on best practices in the fields of statistics and reporting. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.