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Biostatistics | Research & Roles

Biostatistics in Everyday Life

News media report daily on research findings concerning human health:

  • New associations found between symptoms and diseases
  • Improved outcomes of a new treatment.
  • Potential dangers of a behavior or substance.

This research involves the work of multidisciplinary teams of researchers, including physicians, nurses, public health officials, environmental health specialists, and biostatisticians.

Biostatistics Research Projects & Roles

Patient walking in hospital.

A recent prehabilitation study exemplifies biostatistical research in the health care sector. In "Prehabilitation versus Rehabilitation: A Randomized Control Trial in Patients Undergoing Colorectal Resection for Cancer" McGill University biostatisticians studied 77 patients scheduled for a colorectal cancer surgery. Half of the group received the placebo by starting the program after their surgery. The other half received the treatment by beginning the program 25 days before their surgery.

Results:

  • By testing patients on how far they could walk in 6 minutes following the surgery, biostatisticians found that the group receiving the treatment performed better.

  • The treatment group, who received the prehabilitation, walked an average of 23.7 meters farther than the control group.

  • Results of the study were clinically and statistically significant as it exceeded 20 meters.

  • In collaboration with other studies, this research has helped to develop a model of cancer prehabilitation.
     

In studies like “Prehabilitation versus Rehabilitation” biostatisticians collaborate with other researchers to:

  • identify the best approach to data gathering given the question that the study seeks to answer
  • calculate the needed sample size
  • formulate data collection methods
  • use statistical software to increase the workability of raw data
  • employ statistical tests and terms to conclude the study’s findings and significance
  • convert data into useful information and graphical representations for all consumers of information.
     

Areas of Study

Biostatisticians can work on a myriad of research problems and questions:

  • Factors affecting heart and lung disease
  • Testing new drugs to combat HIV/AIDS
  • Assessing indoor air quality in schools
  • Evaluating dental health and dental procedures
  • How do doctors deal with time pressures to see more patients per day in different healthcare systems?
  • Do doctors differently diagnose coronary heart disease by gender, even when the signs presented are exactly the same?