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Clinical Investigation and Statistics in Laboratory Medicine.
  1. William R Roche

    Statistics from

    Jones R, Payne B. (£21.00.) ACB Venture Publications, 1997. ISBN 0902429213.

    Statistics is one of those subjects that divides people into two camps. There are those who revel in the abstract beauty of mathematics, sometimes ignoring the inconvenient habit of data to fail to conform to mathematical models. There are others who regard statistics as a form of codified guesswork and, at worst, a tool to increase the chance of publication of data beyond a p value of 0.05. It is a challenge to write for such a partitioned readership and Jones and Payne have, quite rightly, tended to serve the needs of the less numerate majority.

    This book is well laid out with the use of highlighted sections and abundant graphical illustrations. There are few formulae with which to grapple and the text is mainly a narrative account of the statistical manipulations and the reasons behind them. This is leavened with a sprinkling of biographical snippets.

    Overall, this is not a “how to do it” text but rather it explains why things are done that way. The volume is relatively slim, there are less than 190 pages of figures and text and this has led to a rather steep rate of ascent in the introductory section. However, for a readership that has a medical background and has endured formal attempts by statisticians to justify their stewardship of the Holy Grail, this text is to be recommended. Those undertaking research projects that require detailed statistical interpretation may then move on to more applied texts such as Altman's Practical Statistics for Medical Research (Chapman and Hall, London 1991, ISBN 0 412 27630 5). However, many may not make this progression and an acquaintance with the contents of Clinical Investigation and Statistics in Laboratory Medicine would, nevertheless, be a major advantage.

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