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Revista Brasileira de Anestesiologia
On-line version ISSN 1806-907X
CONCEICAO, Mário José da. Critical reading of the statistical data in scientific studies. Rev. Bras. Anestesiol. [online]. 2008, vol.58, n.3, pp. 260-266. ISSN 1806-907X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-70942008000300009.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Statistics are a valuable tool that validates the conclusions of scientific works. The objective of this review was to present some concepts related to statistic calculations that are fundamental for the critical reading and analysis of medical literature. CONTENTS: In general, authors present the results of their studies as charts, boxes, and tables with quantitative data, along with descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations, medians), and almost always mention the statistic tests used. After reviewing several studies, it was difficult to find the value attributed to the statistical test. Thus, it is up to the reader to evaluate the adequacy of the information, and to search for evidence that contradict possible mistakes that could threaten the validity of their conclusion. CONCLUSIONS: Examining the design of the studies one observes that, in many of them, excessive importance is given to statistical calculations as definitive factors, irrefutable evidence of arguable, or equivocal, conclusions.
Keywords : SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY [statistics]; SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY [project]; STATISTICS [tests].