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Statistical inference is overemphasized in cluster investigations: the case of the cluster of breast cancers at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation studios in Brisbane, Australia

Authors


  • Funding: None

    Potential conflicts of interest: None

Michael Coory, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Public Health Building, Herston Road, Herston, Qld A006, Australia.
Email: m.coory@uq.edu.au

Abstract

The aim of statistical analyses in cluster investigations is to estimate the probability that the aggregation of cases could be due to chance. As a result of several statistical problems – including the post-hoc nature of the analysis and the subjective nature of implied multiple comparisons – this cannot be carried out with any certainty. In cluster investigations, expert opinion should carry much more weight than P-values, which are exceedingly difficult to interpret.

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