Descriptive statistics for the health professions : lesson, interpretation : measures of central tendency : an instructive communication
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Descriptive statistics for the health professions : lesson, interpretation : measures of central tendency : an instructive communication

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    Public Health Service publication
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    In response to a general need voiced by students and teachers alike, we have developed a self-contained, job-oriented instructional package on Descriptive Statistics for the Health Professions. This is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of statistics in general; it is limited, first, to descriptive statistics and, second, to those concepts and techniques most needed by health professionals working routinely with the basic statistical data. This attempt at job relatedness is also reflected in the post-instructional aims-we want the student to be able to put statistics to practical use, not converse in highly theoretical terms.

    Because we have sought operational relevancy and technical simplicity, two cautions are in order: (1) We have used health data in our examples in order to put the health professional in familiar surroundings. However, in our eagerness to keep the necessary basic math simple and the text unencumbered, we may have in places stretched the plausibility of certain health phenomena. Therefore, please don't take offense but rather remember that the health data is not intended to be authentic, only familiar. (2) Also, in keeping with our simple, practical approach, highly complicated, technical concepts, definitions and techniques have been avoided. Whenever this approach has conflicted with technical completeness, we have decided in favor of simplicity and practicality if technical accuracy is not violated. (Therefore, professional statisticians, please take note and do not hold your fellow professionals-our consulting statisticians-responsible for any instructional liberties.)

    Descriptive Statistics for the Health Professions concerned with only those statistics that are generally classified as descriptive statistics: (1) tables; (2) graphs; (3) descriptive ratios; (4) measures of central tendency; (5) measures of dispersion.

    The present booklet is a programmed self-instructional Lesson on the selection and use of the appropriate measure of central tendency. The Lesson should be taken prior to the use of its companion Guides, Arithmetic Mean: Computational Guide and Median: Computational Guide. A unique characteristic of this Les10n is that computational techniques, easily forgotten or made vague through disuse, are not taught. Such detailed techniques are covered in the Guides which are to be used when an actual need arises. Techniques are mentioned in the Lesson only as is necessary to make more meaningful the definitions of the specific measure of central tendency.

    We feel strongly that this Lesson, when properly used, should specifically reduce training time and costs, reduce the public health professional's aversion to using statistics, and increase the effectiveness with which statistics are applied.

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