Statistically speaking, what should we be teaching?

Purpose/Hypothesis : Physical therapists report that lack of statistical knowledge is a barrier to successful implementation of evidence based practice. To date, the statistical concepts most important for physical therapists to understand have been determined by opinion. The purpose of this study was to conduct a census of statistical concepts used in physical therapy literature and to use the results to make recommendations to support informed curricular development for students and clinicians.Number of Subjects : 452 journal articlesMaterials/Methods : All research articles published in every peer-reviewed journal associated with the American Physical Therapy Association (14 journals) in a 12 month period (Oct 2011-Sept 2012) were included. Perspective papers were excluded. Two raters were trained to identify and record each articleÕs statistical terms and achieved k>0.90 agreement with a gold standard (12 articles rated by the first author). Each article was visually scanned; study design, journal, and all statistical terms were recorded. Statistical terms were evaluated and combined when they addressed a single statistical concept. Statistical concepts were assessed for frequency of use overall, by study design type, and by journal. Recommendations for educational objectives and resources were generated.Results : 445 unique statistical concepts were identified in 452 journal articles. There was an average of 12.3 statistical concepts per article. Half of the concepts (223) were used only once. The most common concepts were: min/max/range (84% of articles), percentage/proportion (82%), mean/average (77%), sample size (67%), and standard deviation (63%). The most common concepts beyond basic mathematics were: p-value (59% of articles), statistical significance (48%), confidence intervals (36%), alpha level (28%), intraclass correlation coefficient (27%), and Pearson correlation coefficient (24%). Twenty-five distinct study designs were represented, the most common were: prospective cohort (33%), case report (14%), randomized controlled trial (7%), cross-sectional (6%), systematic review (4%).Conclusions : This bibliographic analysis reveals the vast number of statistical concepts encountered in peer-reviewed studies published in journals associated with the APTA. Clinicians would need to understand 104 statistical concepts to interpret 90% of those encountered in our sample. Educators are encouraged to focus educational efforts on cliniciansÕ ability to: 1) interpret the most common statistical concepts; 2) determine which statistical concepts are essential to understanding an article; and 3) acquire information needed to interpret unfamiliar statistical concepts.Clinical Relevance : Increased self-efficacy for evidence based practice is associated with increased integration of research evidence into practice. Results from this study provide educators with previously unavailable evidence to inform curricula for improving cliniciansÕ ability to understand and use physical therapy research.

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  • Control #: 2019633
  • Type: Platform
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Julie K. Tilson, Katie Marshall, Jodi Tam, Linda Fetters
  • Keywords: statistics|evidence based practice|education

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