Statistics and ethics in medical research

Science and Engineering Ethics 5 (1):97-117 (1999)
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Ethical conduct is an essential component in research, especially in medical research. Statistical methods for design and analysis are powerful research tools if used properly. Abuse of these principles and methods are just as unethical as other laboratory or clinical misconduct. Inadequate research design can produce worthless results and thus wastes effort and valuable resources. For clinical research, patient resources are wasted. Inappropriate analysis of data can also produce misleading results and conclusions. For clinical research, inferior therapy might be given to patients as a consequence. These ethical concerns can have implications for and affect the individuals responsible for the statistical design and analysis. Examples are provided which illustrate some possible abuses and inappropriate pressures.



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