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Statistics in Medicine

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 to Friday, August 16, 2013
Course topic: 

This course aims to provide a firm grounding in the foundations of probability and statistics. Specific topics include:

1. Describing data (types of data, data visualization, descriptive statistics)
2. Statistical inference (probability, probability distributions, sampling theory, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, pitfalls of p-values)
3. Specific statistical tests (ttest, ANOVA, linear correlation, non-parametric tests, relative risks, Chi-square test, exact tests, linear regression, logistic regression, survival analysis; how to choose the right statistical test)

The course focuses on real examples from the medical literature and popular press. Each week starts with "teasers," such as: Should I be worried about lead in lipstick? Should I play the lottery when the jackpot reaches half-a-billion dollars? Does eating red meat increase my risk of being in a traffic accident? We will work our way back from the news coverage to the original study and then to the underlying data. In the process, students will learn how to read, interpret, and critically evaluate the statistics in medical studies.

The course also prepares students to be able to analyze their own data, guiding them on how to choose the correct statistical test and how to avoid common statistical pitfalls. Optional modules cover advanced math topics and basic data analysis in R.


Week 1 - Descriptive statistics and looking at data
Week 2 - Review of study designs; measures of disease risk and association
Week 3 - Probability, Bayes' Rule, Diagnostic Testing
Week 4 - Probability distributions
Week 5 - Statistical inference (confidence intervals and hypothesis testing)
Week 6 - P-value pitfalls; types I and type II error; statistical power; overview of statistical tests
Week 7 - Tests for comparing groups (unadjusted); introduction to survival analysis
Week 8 - Regression analysis; linear correlation and regression
Week 9 - Logistic regression and Cox regression


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment?

Yes, students who score at least 60 percent will pass the course and receive a certificate. 
Students who score at least 90 percent will receive a certificate with distinction.

How much of a time commitment will this course be?

You should expect this course to require 8 to 12 hours of work per week.

Any additional textbooks/software required?

No, readings are optional; and the use of the R statistical package is optional.