Correction added on 15 August 2014, after first online publication: placement of ’and’ corrected.
Special Issue Paper
STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies: the STRATOS initiative
Article first published online: 30 JUL 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Statistics in Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Statistics in Medicine
How to Cite
on behalf of the STRATOS initiative (2014), STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies: the STRATOS initiative, Statist. Med., doi: 10.1002/sim.6265, , , , , and
- Article first published online: 30 JUL 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 JUN 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 28 MAY 2014
- Manuscript Received: 18 DEC 2013
- observational studies;
- guidance for analysis;
- level of statistical knowledge
The validity and practical utility of observational medical research depends critically on good study design, excellent data quality, appropriate statistical methods and accurate interpretation of results. Statistical methodology has seen substantial development in recent times. Unfortunately, many of these methodological developments are ignored in practice. Consequently, design and analysis of observational studies often exhibit serious weaknesses. The lack of guidance on vital practical issues discourages many applied researchers from using more sophisticated and possibly more appropriate methods when analyzing observational studies. Furthermore, many analyses are conducted by researchers with a relatively weak statistical background and limited experience in using statistical methodology and software. Consequently, even ‘standard’ analyses reported in the medical literature are often flawed, casting doubt on their results and conclusions. An efficient way to help researchers to keep up with recent methodological developments is to develop guidance documents that are spread to the research community at large.
These observations led to the initiation of the strengthening analytical thinking for observational studies (STRATOS) initiative, a large collaboration of experts in many different areas of biostatistical research. The objective of STRATOS is to provide accessible and accurate guidance in the design and analysis of observational studies. The guidance is intended for applied statisticians and other data analysts with varying levels of statistical education, experience and interests.
In this article, we introduce the STRATOS initiative and its main aims, present the need for guidance documents and outline the planned approach and progress so far. We encourage other biostatisticians to become involved. © 2014 The Authors. Statistics in Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.