Statistical methods used in the public health literature and implications for training of public health professionals

Matthew J. Hayat, Amanda Powell, Tessa Johnson, Betsy L. Cadwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Statistical literacy and knowledge is needed to read and understand the public health literature. The purpose of this study was to quantify basic and advanced statistical methods used in public health research. We randomly sampled 216 published articles from seven top tier general public health journals. Studies were reviewed by two readers and a standardized data collection form completed for each article. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics and frequency distributions. Results were summarized for statistical methods used in the literature, including descriptive and inferential statistics, modeling, advanced statistical techniques, and statistical software used. Approximately 81.9% of articles reported an observational study design and 93.1% of articles were substantively focused. Descriptive statistics in table or graphical form were reported in more than 95% of the articles, and statistical inference reported in more than 76% of the studies reviewed. These results reveal the types of statistical methods currently used in the public health literature. Although this study did not obtain information on what should be taught, information on statistical methods being used is useful for curriculum development in graduate health sciences education, as well as making informed decisions about continuing education for public health professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0179032
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

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Public health
health care workers
Statistical methods
public health
statistical analysis
Public Health
statistics
Statistics
Education
Graduate Education
science education
literacy
health education
adult education
Continuing Education
observational studies
curriculum
Health Education
Curriculum
Curricula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Statistical methods used in the public health literature and implications for training of public health professionals. / Hayat, Matthew J.; Powell, Amanda; Johnson, Tessa; Cadwell, Betsy L.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 12, No. 6, e0179032, 01.06.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hayat, Matthew J. ; Powell, Amanda ; Johnson, Tessa ; Cadwell, Betsy L. / Statistical methods used in the public health literature and implications for training of public health professionals. In: PLoS One. 2017 ; Vol. 12, No. 6.
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