I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful we no longer live in a time when we feel compelled to swig swamp-root juice any time we want to feel better. The field of medicine couldn’t advance by relying solely on subjective anecdotes and testimonials, like those for Dr. Kilmer’s cure-all.
Using statistical analyses, we can now objectively evaluate various preventions and treatments in measurable, quantitative ways.
Curious to see what Minitab Statistical Software was up to in healthcare and medicine lately, I ran a Medline search. In the past year, the software has been busy making the rounds, analyzing data from medical studies around the globe.
Here are a few studies that caught my eye...
If a baby is born prematurely or develops complications at birth, a medical team must sometimes insert a catheter in a major vein to help save the baby's life. Unfortunately, bloodstream infections can develop as a result. This risk increases the longer the catheter is maintained in the newborn.
At the University of Texas Medical School, researchers used Minitab's 2 proportions test to compare the rate of bloodstream infections in the neonatal intensive care unit before and after implementing a new standardized team approach to maintain central-line catheters in newborns. The team approach reduced the proportion of catheter-related infections by 65%, and this difference was statistically signficant.
Although insecticide-treated mosquito nets are a cost-effective way to significantly reduce mortality from malaria, the nets are not widely used in many high-risk areas around the world. The results are devastating: on average, a child somewhere in the world dies of malaria every 40 seconds. And an estimated 10,000 pregnant women die each year from anemia caused by malaria.
A recent study used Minitab’s chi-square test to identify the key variables associated with net use among children and pregnant women in Nigeria. Researchers examined how wealth, geopolitical region, age, and other demographic factors were associated with the frequency of net use. The results provide new insight into how healthcare workers might more effectively target malaria prevention efforts.
Heart disease is a leading cause of chronic illness and mortality and puts an enormous financial burden on healthcare systems around the world. This case-control study evaluated whether a home-based cardiac rehabilitation program improved outcomes for patients with heart disease.
Using Minitab to evaluate responses from a general health survey, researchers found that patients who received home visits and training by a community health nurse reported significantly better outcomes than those receiving standard cardiac rehabilitation.
A new generation of drugs can inhibit the HIV virus by blocking the activity of a key enzyme that the virus uses to replicate itself. Recently, biotechnology researchers used Minitab's regression analysis to identify which specific structural and physiochemical properties of the enzyme were correlated with its anti-HIV activity. The results could help guide efforts to design new drugs to treat HIV.
These studies, and others like them, remind me that statistical significance isn't simply an abstract concept. It can have far-reaching effects on the essential quality of human life.
You might call that the real value of a p-value.
Related Links about Statistics and Quality Statistics in Healthcare
If you're interested in learning more about the use of statistics and quality statistics in the healthcare field, including specific applications that use Minitab, check out these sources.
- Find out why confidence intervals are critical for properly evaluating the results of medical studies.
- Evaluate the statistical design of a recent study that suggested that vitamin supplements may be harmful.
- A health service in northern Sydney, Australia used Minitab control charts to evaluate methods for treating patient wounds.
- A medical device manufacturer set up and analyzed a designed experiment in Minitab to identify the best settings for electropolishing a critical part used for knee implants.
- The Belgian Red Cross used Minitab as part of their daily quality control system to closely monitor the quality of the blood supply and meet strict compliance requirements.
- A manufacturer of devices to treat respiratory disorders used Minitab to monitor the production and the yield of its products.
Statistics for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices is a 3-day course that applies Minitab tools to different stages of the FDA 2011 Process Validation Guideline. The course covers t-testing, measurement system verification, capability analysis, control charts, acceptance sampling, regression, ANOVA, DOE, stability analysis, and reliability analysis.