Robin T. Vollmer, M.D., V.A. Medical Center, Durham, NC
In medical research there is a clear trend toward the use of larger, prospective studies of clinically significant outcomes, and there is an equal trend toward dealing with increasing numbers of variables. From such studies come the algorithms for making medical decisions–often referred to as evidence based medicine, and statistical analyses comprise a large part of this process. To keep pace with medical research and to even read its literature requires ever increasing understanding of statistical methods, and all too often published papers leave out basic details. To assist in the understanding of these methods, we offer this course. It is intended for general as well as academic pathologists and for residents and fellows in pathology. Although no prior statistical knowledge and experience is necessary, we assume that the participants want to learn greater detail about common statistical methods and that they already have some experience reading statistical results in the medical literature.
The course will be problem oriented. To illustrate the impact of several methodologies in statistical analysis, we will introduce several clinico-pathologic questions and examples of published papers and data which deal with these questions. (The abstracts and citations of these papers will be mailed to registrants before the course.) Then we will describe and illustrate how statistical methods interact with the data to yield useful answers to the initial questions. Altogether, the presentation will deal with the basic concepts of probability, the clinical probabilities of sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values, ROC curves, random variables, distribution functions, statistics and tests of hypotheses, type I and II errors, p values, the logistic regression model for binary outcomes and the Cox proportional hazard model for analysis of survival time. Much of the detail will be provided in the in depth syllabus which will be distributed at the course and will include a printed copy of the presented slides. A CD of this material will be mailed after the course. We will plan to leave ample time for open discussion during the course.