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Misuse of statistics in veterinary dermatology
A very interesting article has been published some time ago: It deals with frequency of inappropriate presentation and analysis methods of ordered categorical data in the recent veterinary dermatology literature and includes a total of 62 published (!) articles...

Clinical outcomes that are difficult to measure directly are often graded with ordinal scales in the veterinary dermatology literature to approximate objective evaluation. Ordered categorical scales require statistical presentation and analysis methods consistent with the structure of the data.

The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of inappropriate presentation and analysis methods of ordered categorical data in the recent veterinary dermatology literature.

A total of 62 articles published between 1 January 2003 and 30 June 2006 in 16 journals reported categorical scales and were included in the study.

The presentation and analysis methods of ordered categorical data were classified as appropriate or inappropriate based on published recommendations.

Forty articles (64.5%) utilized a median of four ordinal scales (range 1–13). Inappropriate presentation methods of ordered categorical data were identified in 23 of 40 articles (57.5%).

These included reporting inappropriate summary statistics (n = 17) and summation of ad hoc numerical rating scales (n = 15).

Inappropriate analytical methods were used in nine of 40 articles (22.5%). These included inappropriate use of t-tests (n = 3) and analysis of variance (anova, n = 6).

The frequency of inappropriate presentation and analysis methods of ordered categorical data in the veterinary dermatology literature is similar to that reported for several fields in the human medical literature.

In order to reduce the likelihood of making unwarranted implications or conclusions regarding ordinal data, authors should follow established guidelines for methods of presentation and analysis of ordered categorical scales.



Source: Jon D. Plant, Jack N. Giovanini, Aurora Villarroel (2007): Frequency of appropriate and inappropriate presentation and analysis methods of ordered categorical data in the veterinary dermatology literature from January 2003 to June 2006. In: Veterinary Dermatology 18 (4), 260–266.


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