What! Yet another book on medical biostatistics! Why? What for?
The purpose of this preface is to answer those questions and to add a few other pertinent remarks. The sections that follow describe a series of distinctions, some of them unique, that make this book different from other texts.
The goal of the text is to get biomedical readers to think about data and statistical procedures, rather than learn a set of “cook-book recipes.” In many statistics books aimed at medical students or biomedical researchers, the readers are believed to have either little interest or limited attention.
They are then offered a simple, superficial account of the most common doctrines and applications of statistical theory. The “get-it-over-withquickly” approach has been encouraged and often necessitated by the short time given to statistics in modern biomedical education.
The curriculum is supposed to provide fundamental background for the later careers of medical and other graduate students, but the heavily stressed “basic science” topics are usually cellular and molecular biology. If included at all, statistics is usually presented briefly, as a drudgery to be endured mainly because pertinent questions may appear in subsequent examinations for licensure or other certifications.
Nevertheless, in later professional activities, practicing clinicians and biomedical researchers will constantly be confronted with reports containing statistical expressions and analyses. The practitioners will regularly see and use statistical results when making clinical decisions in patient care; and the researchers will regularly be challenged by statistical methods when planning investigations and appraising data. For these activities, readers who respect their own intellects, and who want to understand and interpret the statistical procedures, cannot be merely passive learners and compliant appliers of doctrinaire customs. The readers should think about what they want, need, and receive. They should also recognize that their knowledge of the substantive biomedical phenomena is a major strength and dominant factor in determining how to get, organize, and evaluate
the data. This book is aimed at stimulating and contributing to those thoughts.