# 3 Simple steps to help you pick the right statistical test

3 mins

Working with data is both exciting and challenging, isn't it? Statistical tests are powerful tools for drawing meaningful conclusions from data in biomedical research. To make sure you're using the right one for your study, follow these three simple steps:

Step 1: Consider Your Research Question

Think about your specific research question. For instance, if you want to investigate the relationship between two continuous variables, like blood pressure and heart rate in patients, you should consider using correlation analysis. This will help you understand whether these variables are positively or negatively related as well as the strength of this relationship. Similarly, if you’re interested in whether exposure to X increases the likelihood of Y disease, you’d need to calculate odds ratios for exposed and unexposed groups.

Step 2: Take into Account Your Study Design

Next, think about your study design. Are you working with two groups or multiple groups? Are you measuring variables over time in a longitudinal study? Different study designs call for specific statistical tests that are tailored to handle the nuances of your data. For example, suppose you're conducting a drug trial with multiple groups of patients and measuring the effect on pain levels at different time points. In this case, a two-way ANOVA with repeated measures would be suitable. This allows you to examine both the effect of the drug (between-group factor) and the change over time (within-group factor).

Step 3: Check Your Data Characteristics

Before applying any test, evaluate your data's characteristics. For example, if you're comparing the survival rates of patients with different treatments (categorical data), a chi-square test would be appropriate. This test helps determine if there is a significant association between the treatment received and the survival outcome.

Remember, understanding the distribution of your data is vital. If you're studying the effects of a new treatment on a continuous outcome, like tumor size reduction, check if your data is normally distributed. If it is, you can use a parametric test like a t-test or a parametric regression model. On the other hand, if the data is not normally distributed, consider non-parametric tests like the Mann-Whitney test or Kruskal-Wallis test.

Conclusion

By following these three steps, you'll be on your way to selecting the right statistical test for your biomedical research. Remember, the correct choice of test ensures the validity and reliability of your findings, leading to more robust and impactful results.

Get support from an expert biostatistician in picking the right test for your study! Check out Editage's Statistical Analysis & Review Services.

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Published on: Aug 03, 2023

An editor at heart and perfectionist by disposition, providing solutions for journals, publishers, and universities in areas like alt-text writing and publication consultancy.
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