Letter to the Editor
SCHOOL-RELATED BEHAVIOR IN CHILDREN WITH CANCER
Pediatr Hematol Oncol Downloaded from informahealthcare.com by UB Kiel on 10/26/14 For personal use only.
Louise Parker, PhD 0 University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Department of Child Health, The Medical School, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE 2 4HH, United Kingdom
I read with interest the paper by Mancini et al. “School-Related Behavior in Children with Cancer” (Pediatric Hematol Oncol 6(2): 145-154, 1989). The effect of malignant disease and its associated treatment on the performance of children at school is obviously of great concern. It is certainly an area warranting careful research. Dr. Mancini and her colleagues have collected a substantial quantity of information which will no doubt contribute to the knowledge in this field. It is unfortunate, however, that the choice of inappropriate statistical methods in her paper renders it difficult to interpret. The use of mean and standard deviation as calculated by the authors to summarize a data set is only appropriate when that data set follows or at least approximates to a normal distribution which their data does not. Similarly, the Student’s t-test should be used only to compare the mean from two normally distributed populations. Categorical data of a binomial distribution such as that collected in the questionnaires requires alternative statistical techniques for meaningful interpretation. Simple tests such as Chi-square would be appropriate, or logistic regression for a more complex analysis. Gardner et al.,’ in a review of papers published in the British Medical Journal, found that substantial numbers had errors in the statistical interpretation and suggested a twofold approach to improve this situation. First, authors should collaborate more closely with statisticians, and second, journals should be more assiduous in their use of statistical referees.
REFERENCE 1. Gardner MJ, Altman DG, Jones DR, Machin D: Is the statistical assessment of papers submitted to the British Medical Journal effective? Br Med J 286-7:1485-1488, 1983.
Request reprintsj?om L. Parker, Pediatric H r n ~ l t 0 1 0and ~ Oncolou, 7:217, 1990 Copyright @ 1990 by Hemisphere Publishing Corporation