Tutorial on Introduction to biostatistics
Need for biostatistical tools
Biostatistical tools are necessary in research since it is almost impossible to study an entire population because of the scarcity of resources such as money, time etc or due to a desire to expose only the minimal number of subjects to the risks involved with certain clinical trials. When an entire population cannot be studied, then a part of the population (i.e. sample) is examined.
When the researcher studies the sample and draws inferences about the population, serious errors can result if the sample is not truly representative of the larger population.
Biostatistical tools help the researcher to overcome this bias and help draw valid conclusions about the population with a defined level of confidence. Biostatistics has a role in each phase of the research. Let us start with the first stage of research - planning.
Use of biostatistical tools in planning research
After identifying and defining the problem, the researcher decides on the type of study design to follow. Once the type is determined, the variables have to be identified and classified before proceeding to the next step of developing a hypothesis in the case of experimental study. The variables can be categorized by their nature, type and scales of measurement, i.e. independent or dependent, quantitative or qualitative, types such as nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio scales and so on. The nature of the variables will have a significant effect on data collection and analysis.