Biostatistics is the science that applies statistical theory and mathematical principles to research in medicine, biology, environmental science, public health, and related fields. Mathematical and scientific methods are used to carry out this type of study to determine the cause of diseases and injuries. In the same way, health trends within communities can be identified and programs evaluated. Research in this area may include estimating the number of gun violence deaths. You can also, for example, analyze trends in drunk driving injuries. Biostatistics uses statistical methods and reasoning to address the main public health problems. Quite simply, biostatistics is the statistical analysis of health-related data. They study how data from clinical trials and population studies affect public and human health.
Dissertations applying Biostatistics
Students concentrating on biostatistics are interested in how data, population studies, and health intersect. They study advanced statistical methodologies. Also, they are applied to better understand health trends among populations. They interpret the results of statistical analyzes of public health studies. They also translate information into facts that are easily understandable for scientific and non-scientific audiences.
Use of Biostatistics
Biostatistics is the application of statistical principles to issues and problems in medicine, public health, or biology. One can imagine that it might be of interest to characterize a given population. For example, the proportion of subjects who are overweight or the proportion who have asthma. It would also be important to estimate the magnitude of these problems over time or perhaps in different locations. In other circumstances, it would be important to make comparisons between groups of subjects.
This can determine whether certain behaviors are associated with an increased risk of certain health outcomes. Of course, it would be impossible to answer all of these questions by collecting information from all subjects in the populations of interest. A more realistic approach is to study samples or subsets of a population. The discipline of biostatistics provides tools and techniques for collecting data and then summarizing, analyzing, and interpreting it. If the samples that are taken are representative of the population of interest, they will provide good estimates with respect to the general population. Consequently, in biostatistics samples are analyzed to make inferences about the population.
Population parameters versus sample statistics
A fundamental task of biostatistics is to analyze samples in order to make inferences about the population from which the samples were drawn. To illustrate this, consider the population of Massachusetts in 2010, which consisted of 6,547,629 people. A characteristic (or variable) of potential interest could be the diastolic blood pressure of the population.
However, for now, we will focus on the mean diastolic blood pressure of all people living in Massachusetts. Obviously, it is not feasible to measure and record the blood pressure of all residents. But samples could be taken from the population to estimate the mean diastolic blood pressure of the population. Three random samples are drawn from the population and each sample has a slightly different mean value. It is possible to select many samples from a given population. The simple example above shows three small samples that were drawn to estimate the mean diastolic blood pressure of Massachusetts residents. Although it does not specify how the samples were drawn.
Also note that each of the samples provided a different estimate of the mean value for the population. However, none of the estimates were the same as the true mean for the general population (78 mm Hg in this hypothetical example). In reality, the true mean values of the population characteristics are generally not known. Which is why, of course, we are trying to estimate them from samples. Consequently, it is important to define and distinguish between population size versus sample size. As well as the parameter versus sample statistic.
Research in Biostatistics
Biostatisticians have one of the five main roles in public health practice. Your job is to conduct quantitative research to identify health risks. They are biomedical researchers who focus on solving health problems throughout the community. These researchers conduct clinical trials, surveys, laboratory experiments, focus groups, field observations, and case studies.
The compilation and analysis of the data follows to draw proven conclusions. They generally use digital software, such as SPSS and SAS, to organize their findings. Biostatisticians then share their statistically significant findings. They can write a magazine article, publish a book, give a presentation, or teach a college class. Biostatistics spread the word to help improve health outcomes. Its mission is to arm people and public health workers with disease prevention tools.
Examples of biostatistical projects
Biostatistics often focus on a target population, such as older adults, infants, or cancer patients. Others take an overview of health problems like obesity, diabetes, opioid addiction, and smoking. Biostatists generally must write research proposals with detailed study designs to apply for grants. The proposed projects on urgent life-altering health problems are the most funded. For example, a biostatistician could study birth defects caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Biostatisticians could test how exercise correlates with hypokinetic diseases. Biostatistics can determine the effectiveness of phototherapy for patients with dementia. Virtually any topic related to health is in the wheelhouse of a biostatistician for transformative research.
Where research in biostatistics is carried out
At the regional level, biostatistics workers work for the divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, biostatisticians can assist epidemiologists in research for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many investigations are conducted in public or private non-profit and for-profit hospitals. Medical centers currently conducting this type of research include NYU Langone Health, Christiana Care, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic, and City of Hope. Many universities employ biostatisticians in their public health departments to conduct research and teach students. Biomedical research and development companies like Novartis or Leidos also have biostatistics on their payroll.
Requirements for the use of biostatistics in research
A bachelor's degree in statistics, mathematics, public health, psychology, and even computer science can help. As a college student, you can take at least one course in statistics and research methods. The application for graduate school is as follows. Most graduate programs for biostatistics require you to take the Graduate Registration Exam (GRE). Master of Public Health concentrations also typically involve 240 or more hours of fieldwork. People who already have a master's degree can add a certificate in biostatistics instead. Universities may prefer biostatistics with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Public Health (Dr.PH).
Higher education is not the only requirement for conducting research in biostatistics. Experience matters too. Organizations seek biostatistics with a clear understanding of scientific research. Internships, cooperative education, and final projects can develop this knowledge. The American Statistical Association (ASA) maintains an up-to-date count of internships available to examine. Many biostatisticians have to move up from entry-level jobs. Future biostatisticians can work as data analysts to improve their numerical skills. Young quantitative scientists can find lead researchers to guide them. Some biostatisticians migrate to the field from other "Big Data" careers. A resume with STEM education and experience is the key to success.
Skills that researchers in biostatistics must possess
Biostatistician job descriptions always list math skills to perform accurate data analysis. Biostatistics must be experts in problem solving with logical reasoning skills. They must have strong decision-making skills to choose the right research solutions.
Biostatisticians need speaking skills to communicate with members of the research team and study participants. Reading comprehension skills help biostatisticians understand current industry research literature. Basic programming skills are required, such as SQL and Python. Time management skills are also needed to multitask on projects and meet research deadlines.
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FERRAN, E. (1996) SPSS para Windows. Programación y análisis estadístico. Madrid: MacGraw-Hill.
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