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Summary

Multiple t-tests (or their non-parametric equivalents) are often used erroneously to compare the means of three or more groups in anaesthetic research. Methods for correcting the p value regarded as significant can be applied to take account of multiple testing, but these are somewhat arbitrary and do not avoid several unwieldy calculations. The appropriate method for most such comparisons is the ‘analysis of variance’ that not only economises on the number of statistical procedures, but also indicates if underlying factors or sub-groups have contributed to any significant results. This article outlines the history, rationale and method of this analysis.