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Understanding Biostats in the Medical Literature

Understanding Biostats in the Medical Literature

This module covers key biostatistical concepts required to review and interpret findings published in the medical literature. Selected scientific publications are reviewed, discussed and criticised in terms of bias, uncertainty and scope. 

Course Details

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this module, participants will know:

  • The jargon used in biostatistics
  • The statistical principles of scientific research
  • What drives the choice of a statistical method
  • How to criticize scientific papers and to assess the quality of the results and the scope of the conclusions

Target Audience

Target Audience:

This course is targeted toward healthcare professionals, medical liaisons, clinicians, and more generally people who need to understand clinical information published in the medical literature.



No formal knowledge of biostatistical tools is required to attend the class. The technical level is adapted to the degree of knowledge of participants. Attendees are asked to read the selected papers before the class.

Course Outline

Course Outline:
  • Introduction to statistics: Population vs. sample, variability, role of statistics in scientific research
  • Notion of variables: outcomes, factors, covariates, confounders, etc.
  • Key elements in descriptive statistics: Mean, median, standard deviation, standard error, etc.
  • Principle of statistical inference: notion of risk, significance level, p-value, power of a study, confidence intervals
  • Use of statistical inference in equivalence, non-inferiority and superiority studies
  • Common statistical issues in medical research: sample size calculation, dealing with multiple testing
  • Overview of commonly used techniques in medical research: this part is customized according to the course length and the methods used in the selected papers. It focuses on the principle of each method, data it can handle, results it provides, its scope and limitations
  • Overview of meta-analysis


  • posted by D. Traub, MD

    We have selected “Understanding Biostatistics in Medical Literature” for a refresher course with our Medical Marketing team. The intense 2-day program was well received by the entire group; we were particularly pleased about the customization of the contents according to their relevance for our area, and the integration of specifically selected papers and examples throughout the course. Our Creascience trainer has expended significant efforts to ensure that our areas of interest would be optimally covered, which made for a particularly effective learning experience.

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