Professional Development: Statistics in Medicine, a Free Online Class

Do you need to learn how to read and interpret statistics in medical literature? Or are you looking for a refresher on critically evaluating statistics in medical studies? If so, then this course offered by Stanford Online might be of interest to you.

The course focuses on real examples from the medical literature and popular press. Each unit starts with teasers, such as: Should I be worried about lead in lipstick? Should I play the lottery when the jackpot reaches half-a-billion dollars? You will work your way back from the news coverage to the original study and then to the underlying data.

The course will also prepare you to be able to analyze your own data, guiding you on how to choose the correct statistical test and how to avoid common statistical pitfalls. Optional modules cover advanced math topics and basic data analysis in R.

Statistics in Medicine is a free self-paced course that is divided into 9 learning units. Each unit contains videos, quizzes, and a homework assignment with a multiple-choice final exam at the end. Once you have completed the course, you will be able to request a Statement of Accomplishment if you have earned at least 60% on the graded assignments.

Unit 1 – Descriptive statistics and looking at data
Unit 2 – Review of study designs; measures of disease risk and association
Unit 3 – Probability, Bayes’ Rule, Diagnostic Testing
Unit 4 – Probability distributions
Unit 5 – Statistical inference (confidence intervals and hypothesis testing)
Unit 6 – P-value pitfalls; types I and type II error; statistical power; overview of statistical tests
Unit 7 – Tests for comparing groups (unadjusted); introduction to survival analysis
Unit 8 – Regression analysis; linear correlation and regression
Unit 9 – Logistic regression and Cox regression

Participants 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 participants who need a refresher on these topics.