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Statistics in Medicine Syllabus, Summer 2015

Prerequisites There are no prerequisites for this course. Students will need to be familiar with a few basic math tools: summation sign, factorial, natural log, exponential, and the equation of a line; a brief tutorial is available on the course website for students who need a refresher on these topics.

Course Schedule Week 1, June 24-June 30: Descriptive statistics and looking at data Week 2, July 1-July 7: Review of study designs; measures of disease risk and association Week 3, July 8-July 14: Probability, Bayes’ Rule, Diagnostic Testing Week 4, July 15-July 21: Probability distributions Week 5, July 22-July 28: Statistical inference (confidence intervals and hypothesis testing) Week 6, July 29-August 4: P-value pitfalls; types I and type II error; statistical power; overview of statistical tests Week 7, August 5-August 11: Tests for comparing groups (unadjusted); introduction to survival analysis Week 8, August 12-August 18: Regression analysis; linear correlation and regression Week 9, August 19-August 25: Logistic regression and Cox regression Final Exam Period: August 26-August 30

Optional Content The course offers a number of optional videos and modules. These cover more in-depth math topics, proofs and derivations, more challenging problems, or training in data analysis in R (with Deducer). You may link to some, all, or none of these modules depending on your interest and math background. Skipping these extra modules will not affect the continuity of the course; and they are not required for course completion (earning a certificate).

Course Logistics The course is divided into weekly units. Homework for each unit is due weekly by Wednesday at noon Pacific Time (which is equivalent of 7:00pm UTC). For example, Unit 1 homework is due Wednesday July 1 at 12pm PDT and Unit 2 homework is due July 8 at 12pm PDT. Students may work ahead on the course materials and submit homework early. Students can monitor their individual progress and cumulative grade on the course website.

Grading Formula/Policies



(students will have multiple attempts to get the right answer)



(the lowest grade of the 9 problem sets will be dropped)

Final Exam………


(multiple-choice exam available at the end of the course)

Late homework will receive a score of 0; however, the lowest of your 9 scores will be dropped so you can turn in one homework late without penalty. You should work ahead on the homework if you anticipate a scheduling conflict.

To earn a certificate, a score of at least 60% is required. To earn a certificate with distinction, a score of 90% is required.

Optional Readings There are no required textbooks for this course. Dr. Sainani authors a column called Statistically Speaking for the journal PM&R. PM&R and Elsevier have generously agreed to make these articles freely available to students in this class. Links to these optional reading articles are provided with the weekly content.

Students may also benefit by reading the following optional books:

What is a P-value anyway? By Andrew Vickers The Signal and the Noise By Nate Silver

Outcomes After completing this course, you will (1) have a deeper appreciation for how to interpret and look at data; (2) understand how statistics and probability apply to real-world problems; and (3) be able to critically evaluate the statistics in medical studies.

Additional FAQs

1. Do I need a strong math background to be successful in this course?

No. This course focuses more heavily on conceptual understanding. Math is a necessary part of the course, but I will explain the math as clearly and simply as possible and minimize the use of unnecessary mathematical notation. You will have to perform basic calculations and need to understand basic math concepts (including: summation sign, factorial, natural log, exponential, and the equation of a line); if you need to review these concepts, please take the math refresher tutorial available on the course website before starting the rest of the course. No calculus is required.

2. Do I need to know computer programming to be successful in this course?

No. The assignments for this course can be done with a calculator or by hand; you do not need to know statistical programming. The course offers optional modules in R programming (with Deducer) if you would like this training.

3. If I like math, will this course be rigorous enough for me?

Yes. I prefer to emphasize concepts over formulas, because modern statistics has little to do with plugging numbers into formulas. However, the course is still mathematically rigorous. Also, if you want to build a more mathematically sophisticated course, you can watch the optional modules that cover more advanced math topics, including proofs.

4. Will I benefit from this course if I’ve taken an introductory course in probability and statistics before?

Yes! If you’ve had a previous course in statistics, but aren’t confident that you “get” statistics or that you can apply statistics to real-world examples, this course is for you! This course was designed precisely to fill in these conceptual gaps. If you are already familiar with basic topics in statistics (p-values, Bayes’ rule, ttest, etc.), this course will help you gain a deeper understanding of these topics, as applied to real-world examples.

5. Can I take this course to learn probability and statistics even if I’m not coming from a medical discipline? Yes. Though this course is targeted at medical students and medical professionals, the basic concepts taught in the course are portable to other disciplines. Since health and medicine affect us all, you should find the examples to be interesting and relevant even if you are not studying medicine.