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Chiropractic Research Review

Unlocking the Mystery of Statistics for the Practitioner

Published research is only applicable to the clinical environment if the reader can understand and interpret study parameters, terminology and outcomes. Reading research can present challenges to the practitioner, particularly in attempting to discern statistical principles and methods used for data analysis.

The stated purpose of this paper is to "provide the reader of published research with basic concepts and definitions of statistical analysis and testing, and a guide to commonly employed statistical research ..." The author begins by discussing why understanding certain statistical functions are important to the clinician. He then provides definitions for common statistical terms and discusses the different types of information collected by clinicians and analyzed with statistics.

The author directs the reader to potential sources of bias in clinical research and guides the reader to look for these biases. Also included in this paper are some of the fundamental principles of statistics commonly presented by clinical researchers (yet rarely understood by practitioners), such as:

* hypotheses;
* one vs. two-tailed tests;
* type I and II errors; and
* statistical significance.

The article concludes with an illustration of one particularly common statistic, the T test.

Wolk S. Practical statistical understanding for the practitioner. Journal of the Neuromusculoskeletal System, Fall 1999:7(2), pp74-77.
Reprints: (800) 342-0454

Chiropractic Research Review

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