Symptoms, signs and statistics: Statistics applied to the health and life sciences


Experimental determination or detection of the physiological mechanisms underlying disease is by and large a highly complex task. This fact has turned epidemiology into the main tool for generating knowledge in the medical field. Epidemiology studies diseases by monitoring the health of groups of people, rather than through individual observations. If the primary tool for generating medical knowledge is based on the observation of groups of people (population samples) from which we wish to learn (make inferences), then the link between statistics and medicine is clear. Here we illustrate this nexus presenting three statistical research areas that are particularly valuable for biomedical research.


biostatistics; health and life sciences; clinical trials; epidemiology; survival


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  • Cook, T. D. and D. L. DeMets, 2008. Introduction to Statistical Methods for Clinical Trials. Chapman & Hall/CRC. Boca Raton, USA.

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  • Rubin, D. B., 1974. «Estimating Causal Effects of Treatments in Randomized and Non-Randomized Studies». Journal of Educational Psychology, 66 (5): 688-701. DOI: <10.1037/h0037350>.

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